The winter solstice occurs tonight at 11:30 CST, marking the beginning of winter and the longest night of the year.
That means today is the shortest day. The sun is at its lowest in the southern sky.
Between the farther-away sun and the dreary winter days when there isn’t any sun at all, people can be feeling a little – or a lot – down.
“Low energy, low motivation, wanting to sleep more, a tendency to want to eat more, especially carbohydrates,” is the way Wichita psychiatrist Dwight St. Clair described Seasonal Affective Disorder on Tuesday. “A lot of people will tend to put on some weight. It’s like a bear getting ready for their hibernation.”
The disorder tends to show up starting in September and departs in March, St. Clair said. If symptoms are evident during those time periods for two years running, SAD can be the diagnosis, he said.
For those who feel SAD, and those who just feel a little sad, here are some ways to get more light into our lives this winter:
“They’re good to wake up to if you can put them on a timer, instead of having an obnoxious alarm. It’s more of a natural awakening.”
“Exercise intensifies your circadian rhythms so it’s easier to wake up in the morning and to go to sleep at night,” St. Clair said. It also helps alleviate the winter blues.
Some people are kind and leave their lights up for the 12 days of Christmas (they begin – not end – on Dec. 25). And some leave them on during the day, too, which perks up a gray day.
The good news about today being the shortest day of the year is that we’re on the way to the longest day again. Sunrise is at 7:41 a.m. today, and sunset is at 5:14 p.m. The sun will rise at the same time Thursday, but the days will already start lengthening: Sunset will be a minute later, at 5:15.