Monday, November 17, 2008

Surviving Winter in the Portland Area

Portland Winters are more about length of day than change in temperature. We're North of the 45th Parallel here, so the days shorten dramatically.

Midwinter is the 3 months of the year with the shortest days. It started about November 6th and goes through about February 6th. The midpoint of Midwinter is the shortest day of the year, the Winter Solstice.

My tips for surviving the short days:

  1. Get outside in the daylight every day. There are almost always dry parts of the day when you can spend a bit of time outside. Work is the tough thing here. Try to get out before work or at lunch.
  2. Early to rise. You're missing daylight every minute you sleep past Sunrise. The daylight is important to your well being. Be aware of the Sunrise going on outside even if you are inside.
  3. Early to bed. I find I'm ready to sleep early. Take advantage of the natural down time to catch up on sleep so you have as much energy as possible.
  4. Open curtains, stay near windows. Get as much natural light as possible.
  5. Use full spectrum lights indoors. When you have to rely on artificial light, get the full spectrum of light.
  6. Take Vitamin D. With the short day and clouds, you're body might not produce enough from the available Sun light.
  7. Find outdoor Winter activities you can enjoy. Skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, hiking, or hunting can help squeeze a lot of fun and light out of a short day.
  8. Enjoy the Winter festivals. They are timed by long tradition to help you make it through the literally darkest days. These are times you can stay up late and draw on the extra sleep you get going to bed early most nights.
  9. Put up Christmas lights so your house feels welcoming and fun when you come home in the dark at the end of a workday.
  10. Take your vacation somewhere Sunny and/or with longer days during the midwinter or early Spring Season. Going to the Mountains counts because you will usually get more Sun than in the Valleys and you'll be doing more outdoor activities.
Seasonal affective disorder, where people feel down during the darker part of the year, is very common. If you feel a bit down, take the time of year into account. Don't think, "The Holidays are the happiest time of the year, I should be happy." Think "It's tough getting through the dark days of Winter, I am going to use the holidays to cheer myself and other people up."

What is your favorite tip for surviving Winter?

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