Cop­ing with fewer hours of day­light

The Review - - CLASSIFIEDS -

Day­light sav­ing time comes to an end each fall, at a time when the hours of avail­able sun­light al­ready are be­gin­ning to de­cline.

Some peo­ple are more ac­cus­tomed to dark­ness than oth­ers. Nor­we­gians, Swedes and peo­ple liv­ing in Alaska and the up­per reaches of Canada near or above the Arc­tic Cir­cle may go through a pe­riod when win­ters can be es­pe­cially dark. Fair­banks, Alaska, gets just three hours and 42 min­utes of sun­light on the win­ter sol­stice. Those in Bar­row, Alaska, will en­dure a pe­riod of 67 days of dark­ness, ac­cord­ing to Res­i­dents of Seat­tle, which is even fur­ther north than cities such as Fargo, North Dakota, or Port­land, Maine, deal with more dark­ness than those liv­ing out­side the city may know.

Although much of the rest of North Amer­ica doesn’t ex­pe­ri­ence such pro­found pe­ri­ods of dark­ness, when the dark­ness of fall and win­ter ar­rives, it can be dif­fi­cult to main­tain a pos­i­tive out­look. Bor­row­ing some of the cop­ing mech­a­nisms re­lied on in north­ern lat­i­tudes can help many peo­ple to see the dark in a dif­fer­ent light.

• Be aware of SAD. Sea­sonal af­fec­tive dis­or­der, or SAD, is de­fined by the Mayo Clinic as a type of de­pres­sion that’s re­lated to changes in sea­sons, be­gin­ning and end­ing at about the same times each year. Symp­toms tend to start in the fall and con­tinue into the win­ter, sap­ping en­ergy and mak­ing a per­son feel moody. As with other types of de­pres­sion, SAD can get worse and lead to se­vere prob­lems if left un­treated. Light treat­ment, talk ther­apy and med­i­ca­tion can help peo­ple who are sus­cep­ti­ble to SAD.

• Make day­light hours count. Spend time out­doors while the sun is bright in the sky. Make an ef­fort to switch your sched­ule if work in­ter­feres with get­ting out­doors, even if all that can be man­aged is an out­door walk at lunch. Sit by a bright win­dow and soak up rays when­ever pos­si­ble.

• Cel­e­brate win­ter ac­tiv­i­ties. Go ski­ing, snow­board­ing, out­door ice skat­ing, or snow­shoe­ing. Look for­ward to win­ter for what can be done, rather than what can’t.

• So­cial­ize more often. In­stead of hol­ing up in­doors alone, fre­quent the places that be­come in­door gath­er­ing spots for lo­cals. These can in­clude cof­fee houses, brew­eries, res­tau­rants, or even the lo­cal church. Plan more so­cial oc­ca­sions with friends and fam­i­lies so ev­ery­one can col­lec­tively shoo away the win­ter blues.

• Ex­er­cise more. Use the darker hours as an ex­cuse to ex­er­cise more, be it at the gym or out­side. The Mayo Clinic says that ex­er­cise and other types of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity can re­lieve anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion, lift­ing an in­di­vid­ual’s mood as a re­sult.

• Light a fire. Set the kin­dling ablaze in a fire pit, fire­place or wood­burn­ing stove, or just light a hand­ful of can­dles. Flames can be sooth­ing and less harsh on the eyes than ar­ti­fi­cial light.

Fall and win­ter dark­ness does not have to send a per­son into the dol­drums if he or she em­braces the right at­ti­tude.

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