Does winter solstice affect MS?

Time lapse picture from…

I woke up today and realized it is December 21st… the shortest day of the year! 

My thoughts reminded me of my childhood home, North Pole, a little town in the interior of Alaska about 140 miles south of the Arctic Circle, which afforded me many fascinating opportunities.  Experiencing the astronomical phenomenon known as the Winter Solstice – the moment the North Pole is tilted farthest from the sun as the earth continues its orbit ( – allowed us to witness the shortest day of the year with only 3 hours 41 minutes of daylight.  Each day thereafter we would gain 8 minutes of light or lose 8 minutes of darkness, whichever way you look at it, glass half full / glass half empty, until the Summer Solstice on June 21st, which is the longest day of the year, and the sun never sets.  Alaska has long been known as the ‘Land of The Midnight Sun’ since during the summer months the sun is still high in the sky at the stroke of midnight.

During my 55 years on this planet, I have done my fair share of traveling and have visited all 50 states most of Canada, Mexico and parts of Central and South America.  Whenever I meet new people and tell them I was born and raised in North Pole AK they are always very intrigued by this. Typically, the next question is usually about how we handled the 24 hour darkness, although it’s not the only place this happens: Finland, Norway and Sweden are among others in the northern hemisphere. 

Christmas time was always so magical because everyone had a Christmas tree in the window and lights on all over their houses.  We even have a Santa Clause house on Candy Cane Lane in downtown North Pole! Growing up it was simply a little Trading Post, but we enjoyed getting ice cream and sitting on Santa’s lap.

Overall, North Pole AK was an interesting place to grow up! However, there was a flipside, the winter darkness caused many to feel depressed.  Most who had grown up here were used to the change in seasons and the lack of light and overwhelming darkness.  My father was in the military, and we lived very close to several military outposts and often the staff who had transferred from other locations in the US found it very difficult to adjust to the lack of daylight during the winter months. Depression, suicide, general fatigue, and overall malaise soon became known as ‘Cabin Fever’.  There are also high rates of alcohol and drug addiction in these parts of the world.

Living in Rio de Janeiro, near the equator, or Vancouver, near the North Pole, apparently can also make a difference whether you are diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. 

Further research and understanding of the mechanisms that may cause more people further away from the equator to be diagnosed with MS is needed in order to effect change with preventative measures.

Today, I want to talk about depression, isolation, and loneliness.  Whether you are living in a place that experiences the lightness and darkness of solstice or are just struggling with symptoms of MS, you may find yourself in a state of despair.  Living with challenging physical symptoms can be overwhelming when experienced once in a while, but what do you do when despair becomes the norm? 

In my 23 years of living with MS and dealing with extremely challenging physical disabilities, I have found many tools and techniques that have helped me return to a place of joy and peace very quickly even from a dark place of despair.

There are three main things that I recommend to get you started.

  1. Hydration
  2. Vitamin D supplements
    • artificial sunlight lamps / or at least 10 minutes of daylight preferably in the morning
  3. Movement

Of course, there are many more things that we can implement into our lives to affect change for the better. 

Our bodies were designed to heal themselves; if you cut your hand, it will stop bleeding quickly and start to scab over to heal itself; if you break your leg you need to get it set quickly otherwise, they may have to re-break it in order to set it straight.  For your body to operate properly in this healing state we need to have what I call the ‘Million Mindset’. 

The Million Mindset is much more than a mental state – it encompasses your Mind, Body, and Spirit and creates a safe space where your body can do the healing work.  For now, please know you are not alone and there are many things available for you to feel better immediately.  To find out more click here.

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