For many, hibernation is only known as the power-saving state of your laptop but for us it recently was a fact of life we reluctantly had to submit ourselves to for months. The winter blues really hit us hard this time. The dark moods are finally moving over now that the days are again longer than the nights and we have every now and then been blessed with sunshine and mild spring temperatures.
Daylight saving time was taken into use here last weekend. This is very late for someone to wake up from their winter beauty sleep. In fact, I consulted my calendar and saw that last year we had brightened up a month earlier and by this time we had already completed refurbishing the study. Now we have only just reached spirits high enough to start working on our first spring project the upstairs sauna.
The melancholy was accompanied by a general disinclination towards any endeavours other than those you simply couldn’t escape, and sometimes even those seemed to be hard to handle. I dare say we also suffered from social withdrawal leaving the house only a couple of times weekly, often unwillingly because we had to go to the grocery or had a thing or two to take care of. My husband was brave enough to take his walk rather regularly but I’m ashamed to confess I sometimes stayed indoors for days if the weather was particularly unfriendly.
Is this the way for a fit and sane couple being fully their own masters to spend the winter? Far from it! I’ve been wondering why this winter in particular was so gloomy for us bringing more severe symptoms associated with winter blues than any earlier cold season.
Of course, we had a long, dark and weary autumn as we got proper snow only in January. However, there were more important reasons. Firstly, in addition to being free from any parental duties as our children are grown-ups and have lived on their own for years, we are now free from any professional and other permanent duties, too. There is nothing we absolutely have to do daily, which leaves us completely exposed to the tiring effects of the short days and the freezing temperatures. Who would not feel tempted to stay buried under the blankets through that when it is finally possible?
Secondly, we have noticed that the older you get the more you suffer from the cold and especially from the lack of sunlight. Scientists claim people living in the North become to some extent acclimatised but as far as we are concerned, our symptoms have increased during the years.
These two reasons imply a third one: with age living ‘in the hinterland’ is no longer healthy for your spirits during winter but will add to the misery. However, there is a discrepancy here: a house in the country will also add to the bliss of the summer season. Nevertheless, if we wish to maintain a certain level of efficiency throughout the year we may need to draw some conclusions one fine day soon.
Until then, there are ways to tackle the dilemma. As I’m not at all confident about my chances of ever growing a serious interest in exercise, which is known to be of help in your battle against winter blues, we must introduce bright light therapy to our daily routine next winter. The initial dose is 30 minutes each morning but later a mere 15-minute scheduled exposure to bright light daily should clear away your melancholy.
I suppose the only other way for us to cope with the coming winters here would be to learn to accept the natural rhythm of life on Earth, respect the circadian clock and just willfully hibernate like our good old Jack. As much as I love and appreciate nature, I don’t think I would voluntarily agree to offer that much potential to be thrown away.