A very common thing to hear these days in Sweden is everybody complaining about these dark months during the wintertime. Most people would rather stay at home from November until March but unfortunately, it does not quite work like that.
Many Swedes are less active during the wintertime because of the darkness and also the cold. Everyone would prefer to go into hibernation instead of getting up and going to work. But, the time period is simply too long for that unless you have a lot of money in your bank account.
Now what is hibernation and does it really exist?
Everyone knows that it is pretty exhausting every day when you go to work and it is dark outside. And when you have been working the whole day and you finally go home it is dark again...
It’s actually pretty normal that you feel less energetic because of the lack of light your body absorbs during the day. It’s commonly known that sunlight stimulates the production of melatonin in your brain. Melatonin is a very fancy word for sleeping hormone and it makes you feel extra sleepy, especially when days are not as long as in summer.
Here are some tips on how to deal with hibernation:
- As it is already dark outside, it’s better to make use of this and make sure you go to bed on time. Many people make the mistake to over plan and do not get their seven to nine hours of sleep. In the summertime when days are longer again, you can make use of this the other way around and many do so!
- Use the light during the day more effectively. If you work from home, have the curtains open all the time. This may sound strange but it's probably one of the reasons why many Swedish homes do not have curtains in general. This also makes it a must to go out whenever you can, for example for lunch. Not only is it good because you are exercising your body, but also because then you can absorb the most sunlight.
- Make sure you eat food with vitamin D. Sunlight makes our bodies produce vitamin D and by eating vitamin D we help our bodies maintaining the right level during the wintertime. Now this may sound harder than it is. You can find vitamin D in oily fish, butter, meat and other proteins. If you are one of the more pickier eaters , you can also turn to vitamin supplements. There is a reason why we see a lot of cabbage and bean products during the winter. Yes, they are full of vitamin D and therefore don’t forget about these very nice products.
- One thing that you should absolutely avoid is consuming sugary products. Sugar in general makes you feel extra fatigue. So try to avoid these as much as possible. It might be a good idea in the beginning, but once the sugar starts kicking in, you achieve the exact opposite. Sorry!!!
- Yep and here it comes…. Start exercising! It is known for a fact that exercising gives you energy but also different energy. It is a very effective way to beat hibernation. Now this can be done in many different ways. The human body needs a minimum of 20 minutes of exercise per day. Find time to do this and you will deal with fatigue much more effectively.
- Only do things that you know will give you energy. This differs from one person to the other. As stated before, exercising might give one person a lot of energy whilst another person rather wants to sit on the sofa and watch a movie. The thing here is that you should do things that you really WANT to do. Reading a book can also be an example. Many people want to do things by themselves and others choose to go out and do something with their children. The key is to know what YOU want to do.
- And last but not least, it might be a good idea to go to the sun on a holiday. It works both ways. You see, a lot of the things stated above are no longer issues when you are on a holiday, but do still try to stay away from the sugar! Now this might not be affordable for everyone but it is also a very effective way to deal with hibernation.
Yes, we can beat this
Okay, to sum things up: it ultimately comes down to the fact that you have to take extra care of your body during this period. And do not forget that it can be a very special time of year too. It depends on what you make of it. Yes it's cold, but in other parts of the world they are very jealous of the fact that one can go ice skating or skiing here during the winter. And then we have Lucia and Christmas as rays of light in the dark. And one must admit that Christmas with snow, cold, darkness and all of the nice lights is 10 times more fun than in 40 degrees Celsius weather. But maybe that’s just a personal preference.