9 tips for coping with the “winter blues” inspired by the Nordics
Let us make that clear: the sun sets early in the winter in the Nordics. And it sets quickly. It gets dark early on in the day. And that is the case for weeks, if not months, to come.
There is no one who knows better how to deal with darkness and the winter blues than the Nordic people.
You see, from an early age, they learn that there is no bad weather (including lack of sun and light), just bad (=not the appropriate) clothes.
That incorporates a sense of winter resilience. There is a way to get over winter depression if you know how to do it. It requires patience and a positive mindset.
Let’s be honest: most people don’t like darkness, more so the long winter nights and the sunless days. But that’s part of the Earth’s seasonal cycle. It’s natural and perhaps that makes spring and summer to come more anticipated.
If you struggle to cope with winter and the lack of (sun)light, follow us in this article. We will highlight a couple of tried-and-tested ways for making it less painful, stressful, and unpleasant.
For that, we will take inspiration from the people in the Nordics. They can show the way.
How can darkness affect people?
Humans thrive in the light. But they’ve also thrived in darkness. It’s just a way of life and a specific mindset.
In general, winter affects your body to a large extent. No sunlight or light, in general, means your body produces less Vitamin D which is essential for your immune system, let alone your mood.
It’s about the levels of serotonin and melatonin. Without them, it’s not easy for your body to function properly and for you to feel fine.
Some people get even more affected and go into winter depression mode. They even get SAD (literally!). SAD stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder and can be described as a condition where you don’t feel good, your mood is very low, and you have little or no energy.
It’s like wanting to hibernate until winter ends.
We are not doctors, so if you happen to observe these signs (in yourself or other people), consult a doctor. Furthermore, our Nordic-inspired tips below can supplement medical advice.
9 tips for nailing winter & avoiding the winter blues
- Artificial light. We get it, you want and/or need more sunlight. Unfortunately, we can’t manipulate the planets and the stars to bring more sun your way. However, humans have invented artificial ways of getting that desired sunlight. You can buy a sunlight simulation lamp. It creates the same effect, although we dare say nothing compares to natural sunlight. It can work, though.
- Candles. If you don’t like darkness and cold, use candlelight to offset winter. Candles produce warm light that makes the room cozy and can affect your mood in a positive way. Just make sure you buy as natural candles as possible (even organic if you can find them in your town), and open the windows regularly to refresh the indoor air (most candles emit chemicals as they burn and you certainly don’t want to inhale them).
- Extra vitamin D. Get yourself tested for Vitamin D deficiency and if you indeed need that, take extra Vitamin D supplements (pills or other formats). As we said, nothing compares to the natural way of doing things, but, yes, swallow that Vitamin D pill, it can work wonders. And when summer kicks in, go out in the sunlight and let your body produce it the natural way.
- The great outdoors. Even if it is winter, you can still go out and enjoy nature. It’s highly recommended to go out when the sun is still out, or, if there are gray skies, when there is still some light. You don’t have to hibernate as the bears do. Any day can be an opportunity to enjoy being outside.
- Sun vacation. Many people wonder why so many Nordic people travel to the Mediterranean or Southeast Asia in the winter (even for Christmas). The sun is the reason why. They get so tired of constant cold, gray skies, rain or snow, and lack of (sun)light that they crave traveling to a warmer sunny place. Do the same if you can. Even a long weekend in Greece, Spain, or Malta could do the trick.
- Move closer to the light. You know that there’s little light during winter. But you can outsmart winter by moving your sofa or even desk (if you work from home) closer to the windows to have as much light as possible. Corner offices are also the best.
- Keep active and social. Surviving the winter doesn’t have to be a lonely time. Yes, it’s super nice to stay in and enjoy the house hygge at home, with hot coffee, wine, and blankets on the sofa. But that will make things worse. Even if it’s cold and dark, arrange for walks with friends, go out for a nice meal every now and then, schedule a weekend away from home, or invite friends over for board games and wine.
- Work first. If you find it extra hard to be productive with work, start with that. It’s more likely to be able to focus on your work when it’s still day (even if there’s no sunlight). It might sound cozy to stay in bed as long as you can and postpone work for later in the day. But you will most probably not achieve much when it’s dark later on.
- Acceptance. Perhaps the best and most mindful tip of all. Accept that it’s winter and you will get enough darkness for a few months. It’s natural and you can’t escape (unless you travel around the equator all year round). Try to make the most out of wintertime and stick to your habits (be it morning walks, weekend getaways, or socializing).
Now you know what to do and how to deal with winter darkness and “depression”. Don’t focus on them. Instead, shift your focus to your routine and the things you can do while it’s dark and cold that you can’t do in spring or summer. That’s called winter resilience.
Winter is a state of mind. You may not like darkness but remember: after darkness comes the light.