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Ways To Cope With Short Daylight Hours

November 2017


Ways To Cope With Short Daylight Hours

Dealing with shorter days is no easy task. We’re spoiled in the summer by long stretches of daylight and 8 pm sunsets. Adjusting as the summer sun fades away can be tough, but you can make it easier. Maximize autumn and winter sunshine with a few tips and tricks.

1. Exercise - Literally nothing else mood-boosts the way endorphins do – that’s why it’s your first line of defense against both seasonal and clinical depression. Exercising any time of day will do wonders for your disposition, but if your aim is make the most of the daylight, then your best bet is to find time for an outdoor workout during your lunch hour.

2. Let in the Natural Light - Open those heavy curtains, designed to keep the heat in. I know it’s counter-intuitive but often those heat saving window coverings block out precious light as well. Open them up especially during the warmest parts of the day, which is also likely to be the brightest and sunniest part of the day. Sit by the window and enjoy the sunlight on your skin. Play games with family here, read, craft, and spend time letting that natural light brighten the home and the thoughts. Close those curtains up again and preserve the heat before the sun sets.

3. Get Outside - It’s cold, I know, still get outside into the natural sunlight even if it’s a cloudy day. Take a walk around the block or in a local park during your lunch break. Invest in good warm clothes, long underwear, even snow/ice cleats so that you can be safe and warm while absorbing all that beautiful sunlight and precious Vitamin D

4. Eat with the Season - Mother Nature did provide us with plenty of foods and spices during the fall and winter months that protect our mental health. Among fall’s mood-boosting treasures are:

  • Pumpkin seeds - Chock-full of zinc (containing 23 percent of our daily recommended value in just 1 ounce), pumpkin seeds fight off inflammation, which can cause depression and anxiety. They're also rich in magnesium, the calming nutrient that has been called the original chill pill.
  • Squash  - Just 1 cup of butternut squash contains 15 percent of the daily recommended value of magnesium, 17 percent of potassium, and 18 percent of manganese — all critical minerals to keep you sane. One cup also contains a whopping 52 percent of vitamin C, which gives a helping hand to our immune system and to our entire central nervous system.
  • Cinnamon -  A study published in April 2005 in the North American Journal of Psychology showed that even smelling cinnamon enhanced cognitive performance. The spice is especially good for anxiety and depression because it helps regulate blood sugar. 
5. No Seasonal Schedule Changing - Keeping your daily schedule the same year-round. “It doesn’t matter as much in the summer when light exposure is high—but in the absence of light, maintaining activity schedules helps reinforce circadian rhythms.”

6. Spend an evening with friends
- Sometimes cold weather and dark days drive us into hibernation. Certainly we all love a little “me time”, but don’t forget your friends. Grow good spirits by having a few good friends over for a warm meal.  Friends and food always keep life bright, even when the day is short on sunlight.

7. Rest
- Our ancestors slept when it was dark. Candlelight and electric light have allowed us to extend our waking and productive hours, however; this isn’t necessarily always a good thing.  Allow your body to rest during these dark days. Curl up in the bed with a good book and a candle or simply just go to bed earlier in these dark evenings.

8. Use a Light Box Every DayIf you're feeling depressed during these short daylight days, light boxes can be useful. They're flat screens that produce full-spectrum fluorescent light, usually at an intensity of 10,000 lux. Some health clubs offer light-box rooms where you can go sit in front of the boxes if you can’t afford to buy one for yourself. It’s important to use the light box at the same time each day, typically for 30 to 60 minutes. Most people get the best results when they use a light box before 10 a.m.

Colin Fernandez Daily Mail
Kathie N. Lapcevic

Edited by Barbara Allen

  Barbara Allen

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