Staying sane during the shorter days

Ah daylight savings, my forever antagonist, the villain of my winters, the trigger of my seasonal depression. How’s that for some early morning drama? To say that I struggle with the shorter winter days is a bit of an understatement, to give you an idea of the amount of struggle we are talking about: I may or may not have cried last Saturday when I realised, come 16.30, that it was already getting dark outside.

This struggle might stem from the fact that I spent 22 years of my life in Spain, a country which is in the “wrong” time zone, in sync with Germany instead of the UK or Portugal. There, even during the darker months the sun doesn’t set until 18.00, and during the summer time there can be some daylight until 10 pm… Can you tell I miss it?

But that’s not my reality anymore, and I am really trying to adapt, and believe it or not, to stop complaining about it so much. I am trying to make sure I enjoy the sun whenever it’s out, and (this part is harder) to find a way to enjoy the evenings even when they are pitch black. So if you are like me, and you struggle with this time and with the winter approaching… hopefully some of these tips help.

Wake up earlier.

I know, I know it’s hard. I know there’s always another episode to watch, and that bedtime seems to come earlier every night… but the sun is out pretty early (at least here). So even if to work from home I would only need to wake up at 8, I try to make that 7, so I have an extra hour of daylight. My biggest problem here is that it’s hard to get my boyfriend on board with the early mornings… it’s a work in progress.

Spend time outside.

This is the biggest one for me, and I assume for many others. It’s key that I force myself to go out on a walk while it’s still light outside. Even it’s cold outside and I might feel tempted to stay under a blanket, I know that if I waste those ours of daylight, by the time nighttime comes I will start feeling anxious and claustrophobic. And even better than a walk… a run! I have been getting back into running (more on that in an upcoming post) and it makes such a difference!

Now that I am working from home more often, I simply put on my running outfit with some extra warm layers, and go out for a short run during lunch break. Getting some fresh air, some exercise and enjoying the pretty fall scenery makes such a difference in my routine.

Lonely cup

My dream home

Glue yourself to the window.

I am lucky enough to get some sun directly into my windows… so guess where my desk is? Literally next to the window, so from 13 until 15.30ish I get some sun rays on my hands and chest as I work. I have also been found laying in the sunny spot on the floor while reading a book. I might be turning into a cat, but at least I am happy.

Sun down, lights ON.

One of the things that is difficult for me, is feeling like the day is over as soon as it gets dark. I feel like I just want to go to bed and have someone wake me up when the sun is out again. To combat this, I make sure to turn on the big ceiling lights when it gets dark, so my brain still feels like it’s daytime, it’s lets-do-things time, not lets-sleep-time. Do I do this all the time? No… sometimes I am working away at my desk and I don’t realise the sun is slowly setting, and by the time I become aware of my surroundings again I realise it’s pitch black except for my computer… but in general, I have observed a difference when I do do it. So there you go, do as I say, not as I do.

Fancy Car
According to my boyfriend

St. Lukas – Evangelisch-Lutherische
Church

Mark the start of the evening.

And in the same train of thought, if I have done everything correctly, and I have turned on the big lights come 16.30, then I need a way to tell my brain that now it’s relaxing time. So I try to make it a habit to turn off the ceiling lights and turn on the smaller, more moody lights, close the laptop, turn on the candles…. and voila! It’s evening time!

Schedule activities after it’s dark.

This one applies to the weekends. During the weekdays even if I get that feeling of “ok, it’s 5, it’s bedtime now!” I still have to work, and sometimes even commute back home, maybe do groceries… there’s things that keep me busy. But during the weekends I have the tendency to schedule everything for the morning and then leave my evenings empty because I simply do not know what to do during the dark hours. So I am trying to change that. I find that just leaving an errand for 19.00 that forces me to leave the house and have a walk on the streets helps me. I get to see other people walking around, I get to see life and energy, to see that the day is not over yet. Picking up food from a restaurant also works. I have been contemplating running after work… but I think I am too scared for that. Errands will have to do.


I understand that for a lot of you this will seem like such a small problem, or like I am making a huge deal about something really silly… And you might be right, but for one reason or another, it affects me, and I am trying to find ways to work around that. If you also struggle with the darker months please do let me know, I would love to feel more normal 😀