You may think it has felt like winter since October, but we don’t officially change seasons until the solstice says so. Winter solstice is celebrated at the end of December every year. Some of us don’t notice it. Others look forward to it, knowing it is the shortest day of the year and that the daylight will increase after it passes. Like many milestones and holidays of the year, this event can mark a moment for personal reflection and action-planning. Take a moment to consider the choices you make as you live your most nutritious life.

Focus on the "longest night" aspect. The shortest day brings the longest night, so check in with yourself to evaluate your sleep hygiene. Sleep experts recommend that you establish a simple ritual before you go to bed to tell your body it's time to rest. Ditch the tech, brush your teeth, wash your face, read a book or meditate for several minutes before you turn out the light. Clear your slumber environment of stressors by making your room as dark as possible, turning off the television and silencing your phone. Set yourself up to be successful by making your bedroom a sanctuary for sleep.

Activate yourself. It's dark when we leave for work and dark when we return home. It's only normal that motivation to move wanes without the friendship of the sun. While it's tempting to skip the gym in favor of extra time hunkered down, do your best to move each day. Walk an extra few minutes to a bus or subway stop farther away, take the stairs or walk around the mall to incorporate a little more movement into your daily routine. Also, you don’t have to be a weekend warrior to enjoy cross-country skiing, a few minutes on the ice rink, afternoon sledding or building a snowman with the kids. The benefits will show in your mood first. Remember that small efforts add up.

Take a look at your environment. We spend a lot more time inside when it's dark and cold outside. Making your home or office a space that you like to be in will deflect some of the stress and help you lead a healthful life. Winter cleaning isn’t so bad when you play your favorite music and the result makes you feel great. Light scented candles and shift some furniture around so that you can enjoy it in a new way. Take a minute to look at what is and isn’t working in your living space so you can feel empowered.

Take a minute to acknowledge the winter solstice this year. Honor yourself and your work as you pursue your personal ambitions for another season. As you look forward to sunnier days, remember to enjoy the darker days, too.

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