On Thursday, Dec. 21, just as Mercury (finally) begins to come out of retrograde, the winter solstice will begin. Honestly, Mother Nature, how much change do you think our bodies can handle?! Like, take it easy, fam. If you're wondering how the winter solstice affects us, you're probably not alone, and you have a right to be a little concerned about it. After all, you've already been through hell and back with the all the retrograde mayhem, and now you have another astronomical event to prepare yourself for. Deep breaths, people.
For starters, if you're not sure what the winter solstice even is, it simply marks the shortest day and longest night of the year in the Northern hemisphere — aka the official first day of the winter season, at least on this side of the planet. The tilt of the Earth causes the change in seasons, and during the winter solstice in particular, the Earth's Northern hemisphere is farthest away from the sun.
Keep in mind, even though the winter solstice is said to mark the "shortest day of the year," Dec. 21 will still technically be 24 hours long. But it'll feel short AF, because the sun will set really, really early. So yeah, prepare yourself to feel like you're ready for bed at like, 3 p.m. that day.
So, what does all of this tilting of the Earth and the change in seasons have to do with your body? Believe it or not, the winter solstice may affect a lot of things in your life, including your mood, your sleep schedule, and maybe even your sex drive.
My friends, winter is, indeed, coming, so here are seven ways the upcoming solstice may affect you and your body.
Everyone's heard of the winter blues, but there's a real science behind why this time of year has you feeling bummed out a lot of the time.
According to The Guardian, your brain's serotonin levels (the "feel-good" neurotransmitter that your body produces) are largely affected by the amount of exposure you get to daylight. So when the days start getting significantly shorter, and there's a limited amount of sunshine, your serotonin levels can drop, causing you to feel a little moody and melancholy.
Some people struggle so much with the arrival of the winter solstice that they can be diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder, which is a psychological condition and sub-type of clinical depression.
Adding self-care practices into your routine — such as deep breathing, meditation, leisurely walks, and yoga — can help boost your serotonin levels, and as a result, your mood and overall well-being.
When you're not getting enough vitamin D — as a result of not being exposed to enough sunlight — your body can feel super exhausted and lethargic.
The change in seasons that brings us into the winter solstice can affect your body's circadian rhythm, which regulates your normal sleep cycles, as well as your ability to produce melatonin, aka your body's sleep hormone. To put it simply, the lack of sunlight could definitely take a toll on your snooze time.
But rest assured, the dark circles under your eyes don't need to be your default winter aesthetic. Taking a vitamin D supplement or investing in an electronic light box are great ways to remind your body that there is, indeed, a light at the end of this dark tunnel we call the winter solstice.
So, apparently, sunlight can play a much bigger role in your bodily functions than you may have initially thought. No wonder why people down in Australia are so freaking chill and laid-back, amirite?
According to The New York Times, the drop in serotonin and melatonin that happens when there's less daylight outside can actually have a negative effect on your fertility. Now, that effect isn't significant enough for you to freak out about it, but it's definitely worth making a note of.
Have you ever felt like it's so cold outside that the low temperatures are literally give you a raging headache? Same. Curse you, winter solstice.
Though the research isn't definitive, Medical Daily reports that the number of migraine cases seems to notably increase during the winter months, starting on Dec. 21. The swift change in temperature can lead to change sin the body that result in tension headaches — aka the ones where it feels like there's a really tight band wrapped around your head.
Try taking a warm, peaceful bubble bath, or investing in calming essential oils to soothe a relentless headache.
According to a 2010 study, the cold weather that comes with the beginning of the winter solstice may increase your risk for heart complications. Yikes, I've never liked winter as a season, but this is a whole other level of bleak.
Keep in mind, this research is particularly relevant for elderly people and/or anyone who already has a preexisting heart condition. Bottom line: If you're young, relatively healthy, and you normally eat a balanced diet and keep your body moving, you probably don't have anything to worry about.
As if your body isn't already going through enough during the end of December, apparently your sex drive could take a toll, as well. Honestly, this is why we can't have nice things.
According to Medical Daily, your body’s production of testosterone plummets during the winter, which is why you might just not be in the mood to get intimate with your partner.
Be sure to communicate with your partner about how you're feeling, and maybe even find new ways to spice up your sex life, to beat the solstice at its own game.
Finally, a light at the end of the damn tunnel. The winter solstice isn't all bad, guys! It might have you suddenly feelin' like Vincent van Gogh (minus the whole cutting off your ear thing, hopefully), and you may just be inspired to tap into your creative side.
While this isn't a concrete finding, it's basically all about perception: A 2014 study showed that, when the chilly temps of winter force us to go inside and bundle up with a warm mug of tea and cozy blankets, we're more likely to feel connected with others, and as a result, inspired to create and to brainstorm new ideas.
So crank up that thermostat, girl. You might just find yourself creating the next version of Starry Night.