Living in the far north: Beat the winter blues
I will freely admit that I don’t do well in the winter, even in Ireland. I get lethargic, it’s difficult to motivate myself and unless I have to get out of bed it’s downright impossible some days. So why the hell did I move to a country where on the shortest day of the year the sun will rise at 11.30am and set at 3:30pm for a whopping four hours of daylight. And this year there’s very little snow and a whole lot of rain so it seems darker still. Well I moved to try something new. And it is. And because this time of year has the prettiest pinks and purples in the sky, and when it’s not raining sideways the low light is just magical. Still though I am counting down the days until 21st December, and a few days later when I go to Ireland for a week I’m sure I’ll be like a gremlin screaming “Agh, bright light!” But until February when it starts getting brighter, there are a few things you can do to beat the winter blues and remember, if it weren’t for the short winter days you couldn’t have the midnight sun in the summer. It’s a trade-off that’s definitly worth it.
Get outside as much as possible
Make the most of those precious few hours of daylight and get outside. The scenery is gorgeous, the light is amazing, soak it all up.
Vitamin D and SAD Lamps
Apparently Icelanders have coped throughout the centuries more easily than other countries because their diet is so high is fish. Well I can’t stand fish so I take Vitamin D and Vitamin B12 supplements to counteract daytime tiredness. I also have a certified SAD light which I bought in Reykjavik that I use every day. I can’t honestly say that these work and you don’t need anything else but they do help a bit and certainly don’t hurt.
Another way to beat the winter blues and one that definitely helps me the most. Every week I go to the gym about three times, I try to do archery and go climbing once a week or at least every fortnight also. But even just a brisk walk outside helps. Ok hard to do here when the wind feels like it might blow me off the road sometimes, but, on the days when all I’ve done is a bit of exercise that is a victory.
Embrace hygge and be nice to yourself
Hygge is a Danish word means roughly ‘a warm cosy atmosphere’ but encompasses much more. Every time I go to the gym I visit the hot pots to relax afterward, or I go to a spa for a change, I got a new winter tog duvet which is twice as big as my bed is the most amazing thing in the world, make myself hot chocolates, wear my enormous wooly gloves (knitting is the perfect winter hobby), watch films or read a book. So wrap up in blankets and pjs, light all the candles, drink malt og applesin, eat good food, go to a Jólaborð (Christmas buffets) meet your friends and laugh as much as possible.
Beat the winter blues: If all else fails…
You may need a bit more help than you can do on your own. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor if there’s something else that can be done. As my father said when I told him I was moving: “Doesn’t Iceland have the highest rate of antidepressant usage in the world?” That might be for a reason.
On the plus side the daylight comes back much faster than at home so by February I should be bouncing around like a happy lunatic!
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