SAD in Scotland but Sunny in my Kitchen

Summer in Scotland is well and truly over. In fact it ended about 2 days after it began in this funny old land that is Scot, where mist is rain and sunshine is witchcraft. OK, perhaps I exaggerate, but many would agree that Scotland does not have the most dependable of climes. Four seasons regularly happen in one day and it has been known to snow in June and well… snow in December too.

You wouldn’t think there’s much of a difference between my home land of England my adopted abode of Scotland but you’d be wrong. I now see why the Scottish schools break up for summer in June rather than in July like they do in England. Summer arrives earlier and ends very quickly in Scotland. Granted, we do have the advantage of long days in the summertime – you can be watching the 10 o’clock news when a live report coming from Downing Street is in total darkness but it’s weirdly light outside here in Glasgow…

…Light yes, but not necessarily bright.

And therein lies the rub. The thing that really gets me here is the dullness, the clouds, the grey, the feeling if bluurrrgh when you look out the window in a morning… and it’s especially starting to hit now. The trees are turning, the winds are up and the temperatures are down. We may get longer summer days but boy do we pay for it in the short, stubby, stroppy days of winter.

It’s a time that is especially tough for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) sufferers, of which I am one. And being married to a man who is used to the tropical temperatures and glorious sunshine of Africa, and who goes into hibernation at the first hint of a cloud, I think Hubby might be a sufferer too. In fact, he’s having an afternoon nap next to me as I type right now. A peaceful rhinoceros, you might say. Do Rhinos hibernate? No, probably not. OK then a hedgehog, a really big snory hedgehog.

Fortunately the girls don’t tend to go the same way, which is a boon, and long may it stay that way. But then I haven’t encountered them in a winter without my fabulous lightbox shining its magical stuff about the kitchen.

Now I don’t know about you but what with our environmentally friendly house chock full of those low energy lightbulbs that wouldn’t attract a moth in space, our collective family eyeballs are in need of a high lux dazzling each morning and our box does all that dazzling to an energising tee.

A few years ago I would have described such a treatment as airy-fairy, hippy bonkers madness. But since giving in to the dark side of Hadrian’s Wall I started to understand the simple logic. Scotland is dark, buy light box, world is bright again – or at least the kitchen is. I bought my box four years ago and have so far had three whole winters of being able to get out of bed at a reasonable hour, of eating my breakfast with my eyes open and not having my face type gobbledegook as I slump at my desk by 4pm.

According to many studies, not least the one from Columbia University, exposure to a high lux illumination of around 10,000 for up to 30 minutes a day can kick your body back into the activity levels you might expect in the summer time. There are plenty of boxes on the market. And my box has been going strong without the need of a bulb change yet so the moths and the environment can rest easy in a wintry harmony.

If you find yourself being knocked sideways by the onset of winter, here are some of my own dazzlingly obvious tips for combatting SAD or the Winter Doldrums (aka ‘feeling blurrgh’ or ‘duvet love’)*:

1. Buy a lightbox. They’ve come down in price since I’ve bought one. The cheapest I could find 4 years ago was £120. They now go for as little as around £45-50. Still not cheap but well worth the investment.
2. Put your alarm clock at the other side of your bedroom so you have to get out of bed to turn it off. Always amusing when you have a dead leg – but guaranteed to wake you up all the more alertly.
3. There are some alarm clocks that produce a gradual dawn effect so you get a gentle awakening by light as well as sound – but be aware that not many of these alarm clocks have a high lux light (which is thought to be needed to most noticeably help the effects of SAD). A bright lux alarm clock would be quite a rude awakening I guess. If you’re up for a shock you can always set a socket timer on a normal high lux lightbox which is what I used to do in my bedroom. Not fair now I have a hubby though, so I don’t do that any more.
4. I don’t claim to be an expert and do please consult a doctor first but a healthy intake of vitamin C & D can boost your energy levels (and immune system too). I tend to drink an effervescent Vitamin C drink each morning while I’m waiting for my morning coffee to brew. Also eat your greens!
5. Make sure your lightbox is pretty close to you as you expose yourself to the light. Experts don’t recommend looking straight into the light (which is diffused but still very bright), but putting it somewhere as you eat your breakfast, do your make-up etc. can help. I find a morning exposure is the best time to absorb the light to set you up for a brighter day.
6. Moderate exercise can boost your energy levels and reduce your levels of lethargy. But you knew that already I’m sure!

Hope you’re able to go from SAD to happy soon. ☺

*NB. Always consult your doctor. I don’t claim to be an expert 🙂

5 thoughts on “SAD in Scotland but Sunny in my Kitchen

  1. Karin @ BritMums says:

    Fascinating Suddenly Mum! I can relate a bit as I’m originally from Wisconsin in the US which also experiences the delights of 4 seasons in one day, heating in the morning/air conditioning by afternoon, snow in May (and October through it) and very gloomy days. Thankfully the summers in Wisconsin do last at least through July! Thanks so much for sharing. Long my your lightbox brighten your day! 😉
    Karin @ BritMums

  2. Angeline says:

    This is a very good personal experience of SAD which I can relate to. I’m from Canada and even though I have been here for 16y, I still get pretty down in winter and dread the long months… You are right though, exercise and vitamins have helped me greatly and I would probably feel worse if I didn’t have these …. I have recently bought an app for my phone which is meant to help but as you said in the post, these types if things mat not produce the right light but I will have a go and see. Well done again on a informative post!

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