Gaining an hour in the fall from the end of Daylight Savings Time is often more of a welcome change than losing an hour when it starts back up again in the spring. Nevertheless, an extra hour doesn’t always make up for the misery we often feel due to the extreme darkness this time of year.
Even for those of us who don’t actually suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, shorter fall and winter days (combined with the cold, of course) can still impact our mood and our everyday routines. The amount of light we get influences our brain function and our biological 24-hour clock, so the obvious solution would be to increase our exposure to light during the colder seasons when daylight is at its lowest.
An even better idea, however, is to combine increased exposure to light (by getting out for a morning walk, using light therapy, sitting by a window during the day, etc.) with strategies designed to help us befriend the darkness of the season. This will help create balance in your life as you go about your daily routine with lower levels of daylight.
Here are some ways you can take advantage of the darkness and embrace it fully.
Once we “fall back” and gain an hour, may of us subconsciously react by bombarding ourselves with artificial light to make up for the lack of daylight in both the early morning hours and evening. Whether it’s turning every light on, watching TV, or browsing our smartphones, we all seem to be naturally compelled to turn everything on to distract ourselves from the darkness.
Here’s an idea: Take the morning or evening darkness as an opportunity to keep everything turned off. Practice sitting in silence, meditating, stargazing out the window, or just doing something that takes you away from the distraction of your devices and toward inner reflection.
Darkness is typically associated with vulnerability. Our bodies are designed to function best in the daytime, so at night, when it’s dark, it’s not uncommon to find our emotions running wild and wanting to do anything to escape them.
Make peace with the darkness by making your home (or at least your favorite room in your home) feel cozy so that you actually enjoy spending time there and feel safe. Consider combining your time to unplug with doing something relaxing at home by candlelight, curling up with a blanket and a good book, or maybe even getting intimate with your partner.
A lot of people feel compelled to stay inside where it’s warm and cozy when it’s dark and cold out, but too much indoor time can have a negative impact on our psychological and physical wellbeing. We need to balance our indoor time with our time spent outdoors, even when the weather is less than ideal.
Research and plan fun things to do that get you outside, like attending local night festivals, which often showcase beautiful light displays around the holidays. As we roll into winter, you could try nighttime skating at a local skating rink. If you keep digging around for things to do, you’ll find there are lots of outdoor activities that can be done in the darkness of fall and winter that you simply can’t do during the warmer months.
As a final bonus tip, remember to be grateful for the seasonal changes we’re all so blessed to experience on this planet. Your appreciation for this darker time of year will make spring and summer feel even more magical when it arrives once again.