Celebrate the winter solstice with lifestyle tips for finances, mental health and sleep routine

Every beginning of a new winter is essentially an early breakthrough in New Year’s resolutions:

“I’m going to start saving for the holidays.”

“I’m not going to let the shorter days get to me this year.”

“I’m going to start a new hobby.”

But then the 4 pm sunsets begin, and time suddenly doesn’t exist anymore.

At the 10th annual Make Music Madison Tuesday, held each year at the summer solstice, audiences were treated to some 450 performances at more than 125 venues throughout the city.

With Wednesday’s winter solstice officially marking the beginning of the winter season and the start of longer days, there’s no better time to realign goals.

reconnecting your thinking

Nothing sets you back financially like holiday shopping, and nothing buries you deeper than taking a few days off for the holidays at the same time.

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That’s why Bankrate, an online financial calculator and guide, has broken down a couple of tactics to make financing easier for the new year.

When it comes to financial health, households with incomes below $50,000 view money as a negative factor in their mental health. Forty-nine percent of those surveyed also said looking at their bank account was a trigger, according to a money and mental health report Bankrate made with Psych Central.

Stress becomes more serious when you remember These financial stressors are only compounded by the continued rise in inflation.

Credit card debt consolidation is a great way to speed up paying off your debt sooner rather than later, and the avalanche and snowball methods are the approach recommended by Bankrate.

The avalanche method requires borrowers to address their largest debt first, while the snowball method asks borrowers to pay down their debt incrementally.

If budgeting doesn’t come naturally to you, try setting up a spending plan.

Even though spending plans are essentially the reverse version of a budget, reframing the way you track your spending allows you to think of it as something in your control instead of at the mercy of your bank account.

Get ready for tomorrow

When most people think of sleep training, they think of babies.

But with the sun setting earlier in the day by now, it’s perfectly normal for your internal clock to feel out of whack, especially when it comes to your sleep schedule.

The body has many ways of signaling that you are sleepy, such as the natural release of melatonin. But melatonin is also released when it gets dark; which means you will start to feel tired much sooner than usual.

Ironically, the best way to sleep: train yourself, according to Fortune, CVS’s online medical journal, is to go back to the most used tactics with babies, like listening to bedtime stories.

While bedtime stories enjoyed by children can give them something to dream about, listening to stories that bore you is even more effective as an adult.

Heavy blankets and cold temperatures can also inspire your body to take a long rest. Rooms set at 65 degrees are best when it comes to triggering sleep chemicals, according to the Sleep Foundation.

Mental health

With less sunlight in the winter months, seasonal affective disorder, or “seasonal depression,” primarily affects people ages 18 to 30, with three out of four of those affected are womenaccording to Mental Health America of Wisconsin.

Seasonal depression isn’t just about feeling worse than usual during the winter, it’s a chronic experience that comes back.

“A diagnosis of (seasonal depression) can be made after three consecutive winters of … symptoms if they are followed by a complete remission of symptoms in the spring and summer months,” according to Mental Health America of Wisconsin.

Symptoms include depression, anxiety, lethargy, binge eating, insomnia and even extreme mood swings like periods of mania in the spring and summer.

Since lack of sunlight is the main contributing factor to seasonal affective disorder symptoms, light therapy has been the most effective treatment “in up to 85% of diagnosed cases,” according to Mental Health America.

In less severe cases, spending time outdoors and rearranging furniture to allow light in has also been shown to improve the overall mood of people affected by seasonal depression.

celebrating the solstice

For many people celebrating the winter solstice in Madison this year, the occasion serves as a time to reflect on the previous season.

At Olbrich Park’s annual winter solstice celebration, the neighborhood comes together to dance around a campfire over hot chocolate and dance off the chill.

“The winter solstice… is like when you enter the quiet time of the year, more contemplative and reflective. Just nurture that part of ourselves,” said Tyler Schueffner.

Olbrich's Solstice

Visitors to the Winter Solstice Bonfire in Olbrich Park surround the traditional fire during the 2018 event.


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