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Dealing with Shorter Days

Maximize autumn and winter sunshine with a few tips and tricks

Dealing with shorter days is no easy task. We’re spoiled in the summer by long stretches of daylight and 8 pm sunsets (or 10 pm if you live way up north). 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.


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.

Your other option is an early morning workout – not only will it leave you energized for the rest of the day, but also if you time it right, you’ll experience the sunrise in real time. You’ll be fit and zen.

Go to bed early

If you’re going to get up early for a workout, you absolutely need to discipline yourself into an earlier bedtime. Just like coaxing yourself into waking up early every morning to get to work is difficult, so is training yourself into an earlier bedtime – but of course it’s just as important.

Even if you’re not planning to wake up early for a workout, getting enough sleep is always important to keep you in a good mood and healthy mental state, but even more so in the winter when you’re more prone to depression. If you’re a troubled sleeper, try making use of a sleep app to track your sleep and the quality of your slumber.

Eat a light dinner

If you’re having trouble falling asleep at night, it may be because you’re eating too much for dinner (or eating dinner too late).

An ideal day of eating is structured nearly opposite from the way most people eat. Start your day with a big, healthy breakfast to keep you full until your lighter lunch, and then end the day with the lightest meal of the day – dinner. Avoid eating after 8 pm to allow your body time to digest a bit before hitting the sheets.

Plan a holiday

Get some summer somewhere south of the equator. If you find yourself simply craving more sunlight, then plan a beach holiday for the darkest time of the year. Wintry places don’t necessarily mean dark places – plan a ski or snowboarding holiday out West in British Columbia, Colorado or Utah and remember to pack your sunscreen. The west coast and the high altitude means more sunlight than your skin can handle.

Get outside – even when it’s cold

Don’t avoid a lunch in the park or a morning run just because it’s chilly. There’s no such thing as cold weather, only weather for which you haven’t dressed appropriately.

Don’t drink too much

Often the temptation in cold, dark weather is to drink to stay warm – but don’t overdo it. Remember, alcohol is a depressant! It will only make your seasonal affective disorder worse. Consider going dry for the dark months of the year, or at least significantly reducing your intake.

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 (and perhaps enjoy a few) by having a few good friends over for a warm meal. Follow dinner with s’mores over a fire. Friends and food always keep life bright, even when the day is short on sunlight.

Wear your favorite comfy flannel and wool

Speaking of appropriate dress, autumn and winter wear are the best. Who doesn’t love a chance to layer your coziest clothes? Get out your favorite corduroys, wool socks, undershirts, flannels and cable-knit sweaters. Don long johns and fur hats when it’s extra cold. Enjoy the weather while it lasts because come summer you’ll only get to wear one or two items of clothing at a time!


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