Oh, Those January Blues!

January, rain, weather, Blues, SADIt’s January, here in the Pacific North West. It’s the tail end of a 3 month period of precious little sunlight, and I think it’s getting to me. I wake early, as I always do, full of optimism and ambition, and then I remember. Oh, yeah, the weather.

I hesitate, just for a moment, and then, in a band-aid ripping motion, I snap the blinds open. Just as always lately, it’s another grey, shapeless, sunless day in Victoria.

This morning, I decided to test my thesis about our lack of sunshine. My first comparison was with other cities in Canada. A few key strokes, and I had the verdict:

Aha! Just as I thought. No statistics for Victoria (it’s too small), but Vancouver, just across the Georgia Srait, has the following daylight hours:

177 hours for November, December, and January, preceded by only 2 others in Canada: Iqaluit, Baffin Island, at 80.6, and Whitehorse, in the Yukon, at 110.4

By way of comparison, our sunniest city, Calgary, has at 354 hours of sunlight during winter!

Across the world, here are others:

  • Miami. USA, 656.7
  • Adelaide, Australia, 893
  • Delhi, India, 676.8

Well, it’s the weather, I decide—God’s plan for us. I mope around, I make coffee, I check in on my husband, sleeping soundly.

The weather has always affected me. Maybe I have seasonal affective disorder, I think. Or is S.A.D. even a real thing? A few more key strokes, and this is what I find:

People with this condition lose steam when the days get shorter and the nights longer. Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder include loss of pleasure and energy, feelings of worthlessness, inability to concentrate, and uncontrollable urges to eat sugar and high-carbohydrate foods.

Although they fade with the arrival of spring, seasonal affective disorder can leave you overweight, out of shape, and with strained relationships and employment woes.

I’m sure I’ve fallen prey to all or most of these symptoms at one time or another in my long history of living in this country of dreary winters.

Meanwhile, online, I find many suggestions on how to cope:

  • exercise outside
  • use a lamp, (light box therapy)
  • take pills. (antidepressants)

I do exercise outside (a 50-55 minute walk a day)

I already have a lamp, but it doesn’t help

And no, I won’t take pills.

I’m not alone in my feelings about this, as Michael Terman, assures me, writing for Psychology Today:

It is the “turning of the year.” The hours of daylight stop getting fewer and begin to increase. We have reached the bottom of the trough and started on the upward slope. But what about people who suffer from seasonal slowdowns and emotional slumps? That includes the 15% who plod through the winter months in a state of slowness and gloominess that they may just be able to hide from others, as well as the 5% with seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, who confront major depressive episodes every winter. Together, they add up to some 60 million Americans.

I’m not part of the 5%, I decide. My responses don’t include a major depressive episode. So, I’ll take another route. There’s a coping method, not mentioned in the material I read, but worthy of note: keeping busy. It was a solution for all sorts of emotional disorders in simpler times. Our parents believed in it—it kept them afloat.

I could get a head start on my spring cleaning, plan my border garden, or maybe resort to preparing my income tax.

And I’ll distract myself with the following:

  • enjoy each positive thing, no matter how small
  • be grateful for what I have
  • share my thoughts with others who feel as I do

Today, the air is warmer. Eventually the sun will emerge, and this misery will end. And in this country, if I remember correctly, when the sun breaks through, suddenly it feels like July!

Meanwhile, there’s this:

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30 Responses to Oh, Those January Blues!

  1. Pat Skene says:

    This is a very difficult issue for so many people. Some quite serious. But fortunately I have never experienced a problem with lack of daylight. My only problem is that I can no longer drive at night. So I need to plan my activities around the reduced daylight hours. Hang in there…spring is just around the corner. ☀️☀️☀️☀️☀️☀️☀️

    • Still the Lucky Few says:

      It doesn’t get to me until January—I can make it through November and December easily. I drive only during the daylight as well, hence another reason I love the spring, summer and fall!

      • maybe the January point is exactly that…before that time, the festivities leading up to late December keep you busy; you have meals and such like to prepare, if you’ve a indoor tree person, you were busy either making ornaments for it or taking out precious memories. I know you’ve not truly in Thanksgiving territory but maybe you have a similar festivity, let’s not forget Halloween…

        come January and all you have left to do is put everything back into storage, wrap up your reflections of that grand time…and maybe as you have said “plan your new spring/summer garden…” do you suddenly have spring (we don’t particular do…) or is it not until summer you’ve out of the doldrums and rearing to be out in the garden, and going out and about

        • Still the Lucky Few says:

          It’s so interesting to hear about how our countries are different, and yet somehow the same. Our winter, although it can be dark and gloomy, is short, and usually by mid-February, buds can be seen on the trees, and bulbs coming out in the garden—first, crocuses, then daffodils, and then tulips. It is truly a lovely time of year. Our autumn can be long, with warmth and sunshine until the end of October. So that leaves November, December and January as the gloomy months. We do have Thanksgiving, which is during the second week of October.

  2. Ah, the winter doldrums! They are real. You sound like you are on the right track, to distract yourself with gratitude and enjoying the present moment. Definitely good moves. But also, I’d encourage you to experience your doldrums. Don’t deny them. They are a part of life. And when the sun finally comes out, you will feel joy and appreciate the difference between joy and doldrums. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

    • Still the Lucky Few says:

      Hmmm, I’ll try to wade through them today. Sunday is a good day to experiment! Like many people, I avoid feeling bad, and look for ways to distract myself. I love the quote!

  3. Maintaining a positive attitude during these winter months is essential for coping. As suggested we can also practice gratitude. Despite overcast skies and short daylight hours, I am grateful every day to live in Canada!

    • Still the Lucky Few says:

      Yes, Jeanette, I might gnash my teeth over the weather, and other things that are not important in the greater scheme of things, but the constant is that I love living here in Canada! Thanks for reminding me!

  4. Mary says:

    I literally had to move to Fl. I wa in the mountains of NC for 14 years. My husband passed and I could not wait to move. I needed sun, no snow and no icy roads. I had had enough!

    • Still the Lucky Few says:

      I hear you! Although it’s not in the cards for me to move to the USA! But good for you for getting exactly the right living situation!

  5. You might want to read The mindset that keeps Norwegians cheerful through one of Earth’s coldest, darkest winters. If nothing else looking at their chart should cheer you up! Good luck. 🙂

  6. even though my country doesn’t have your extremes, it is surrounded by huge body of water (you can get to the sea easily (well not always easily) but it’s not days and days of travel. Where I live in the Auckland region it is usually pretty damp/winter time…and damp is actually quite cold when it’s just pure rain and no much sun.

    Many people, take off during winter – travel overseas, sometimes only a far as the Gold Coast, Australia but they might be found in summertime somewhere else…

    • Still the Lucky Few says:

      I used to travel to warmer countries (Costa Rica, Mexico, Hawaii) during winter, but am not motivated to do that these days!

  7. Cherylann says:

    I completely understand and identify. I live in the USA. Midwest region a d we get plenty if winter. In fact, it seems more than our share. The older I become the harder it is to simply enjoy the cold and snow–too many other things to deal with such as my husband’s health issues, careguving, etc. Vocationally I write prayers and found solace this winter working on a book of prayers just for winter months!

  8. virginiafair says:

    I have a dear friend who has suffered from SAD for a number of years now. While I was wroking I was not affected but this year I wake up depressed and worrying about things. Like you I rip the band-aid off and make my way to the kitchen to make coffee. Come sporing, I guess I’ll find out if indeed it is SAD or not. The things I worry are indeed real so let’s see if they still come to mind when I wake up to sunshine.

    • Still the Lucky Few says:

      That would be the test, wouldn’t it? I certainly hope you don’t have SAD—it’s not to be taken lightly!

  9. Whilst I accept that clinical SAD does exist, it seems to me that is natural to feel low in the conditions you describe. And, Johnny Ray, wow.

    • Still the Lucky Few says:

      Johnny Ray is the best “cry” artist ever! I might have over-reached—gloomy weather probably isn’t THAT tragic!

  10. Rummuser says:

    I am lucky. I live in Pune India where except for the four months of monsoon we have bright sunny days all the rest of the time. Even during the monsoon, it is not always clouded and we do get to see the sun on and off. None of the seasons affect me but this winter age is telling and the old bones are protesting when I don’t wear something warm.

    • Still the Lucky Few says:

      I believe that when you are old, you deserve to have sunshine! HaHa. So glad that you, at least, get to have it almost all year ’round!

  11. You need a Miami vacation. Let’s set up a conference call.
    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    • Still the Lucky Few says:

      Was that post whiny enough to merit a Miami vacation? The conference call sounds like a sweet idea. Who else would you invite? Already you cheered me up!

  12. Yeah, Another Blogger says:

    Hello there, Diane.
    Like you, I’ve had enough of winter.
    Bring on spring!

    Neil

    • Still the Lucky Few says:

      No sign of it yet. Although two days ago, we had a shaft of sunlight across the water. Not very long-lived!

  13. Hi Diane! Oh I feel your pain. I could NEVER live where the sun didn’t shine the vast majority of the time. I would be one of those people who would be seriously depressed without sunlight. I’m not sure if I have just learned it…I grew up in the desert southwest so it has been with me my whole life. I just googled it for southern California and it said that we get about 698 hours during winter (that was San Diego) and I’ll be we get even more. Of course, the price we pay is VERY hot summer…but most of the time the sun is shining. In fact, Thom and I have joked that with the current political climate we would move to Canada–if it wasn’t so cold!!! Hang in there…or better yet, come for a visit like so many of your neighbors! ~Kathy

    • Still the Lucky Few says:

      Actually, Kathy, most winters are not quite so gloomy. This seems to be a particularly dark 3 months! Spring starts in February, and the weather is great until the end of October, so we really should not complain! We are lucky, I know, to have this rain, because it nourishes our abundant forests, for which I am grateful. But thanks for the sentiments, Kathy!

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