Dark, cold and miserable. That is how many people experience November in Sweden. In this post we have gathered some tips on how to make it through this gloomy month.
Natalie: Write now, edit later
My darkest November ever was in 2000. I was a PhD student and teaching in the student lab. There were some small windows, but I must have missed the 4,5 hours of sunlight that were reported during the entire month. Since then I have learned and try to be very kind to myself during November. The success of this has varied, some years have gone better than others.
Recently I have finally felt that the hopefully last fogs of longcovid are leaving my brain and now I simply refuse to let the darkness get to me. So I have decided to take November to the next level and will embrace the solitude that only dark and cold days will give you. I will fully immerse into my current writing project and produce a lot of text (in the spirit of nanowrimo*), go for walks or runs during daytime (benefits of freelance work) and do small things that I enjoy. Text editing is for december, as are deadlines. Get the chocolate and the tea pot ready, November here I come!
*Nanowrimo is short for National November Writing Month – write a novel of 50 000 words during November, that makes 1667 words each day.
Melody: Food and game night
Even though the days get colder and and the nights longer, embracing this change can help us overcome it! Maybe it’s time to meet more indoors with your friends instead of outdoors? When I was living in Ireland where the days also start getting shorter in November and become even more rainy, we had a weekly tradition with my friends to cook food together on Fridays and play board games or party games (such as the jackbox party game package). Spending this time together every week gave me something to look forward to during the week and allowed me to overcome the feeling of being alone during these long, cold and rainy days.
Spending more times indoors can also mean that you have some time on your hand to start a new hobby or a new book! How about picking up crocheting or photography and starting a blog!
Although it might seem cold and gloomy outside, it might be good to go for short walks to get some fresh air and recharge if you didn’t get the chance to do this during daylight! If you feel the need to be creative, a walk outside when it’s dark, quiet and not so busy can maybe help you find your way out of a problem. Artists, writers, designers, programmers and composers are known to be children of the night as their creative minds work extremely well at night when it is calm, peaceful and the stars are shining giving way to their imagination.
Leonie: Back to the gym
Truth be told: my workout routine got destroyed during the pandemic, but November is one of many great reasons to get started again! Instead of sitting home alone in the dark, I signed up for my favorite gym class again on the 1st of November this year.
Here are the advantages of conquering your weaker self and joining a gym class again: you are fighting the darkness together; the exercise will release lots of happy hormones in your body and you can get some extra warmth by enjoying a relaxing sauna after. Also, it’s a great combat against all the extra calories we get from Christmas cookies and chocolates.
Hazel: Supplement for sunshine
Vitamin D3 supplement. As daylight hour gets shorter and shorter, the weather gets colder and colder, you stay mostly indoors, and you are all bundled up outdoors. Your skin can’t synthesize enough vitamin D for your body, so get it from external sources. Vitamin D is essential for many roles in our body and overall health especially for calcium absorption to maintain bone health. There are few food sources rich in vitamin D, for example, fatty fish, fish liver oils, and egg yolks. As they are mostly animal-based foods, vegans like myself and my wife take our plant-sourced oral vitamin D tablets/capsules that are readily available at any pharmacy. We typically start supplementing around November and stop when we feel that it’s warm and sunny enough to let our skin take over the job.
P.S. I’m a licensed pharmacist, but I don’t work for any pharmaceutical company. No conflict of interests here.
Luca: Indoor sports and cities by night
Take up a good indoor sport like handball, bandy, indoor football and stick to it. Explore the city at night and go to bed the same time you would normally in the summer. Don’t let the darkness consume you!
Andrea: Time for reflection and evaluation
It might sound a little bit controversial, but I particularly enjoy the darkness! I enjoy the moisture in the morning and the smell of the grass. I like to see the leaves fall and how nature endures these changes. It makes me re-evaluate myself, and what I have accomplished during the year, and prepare my set of goals for the next year. This is the time of the year when I learn from my mistakes and become a better person and make a personal commitment to this. Just like the trees are enduring the coldness to bring new leaves and flowers during spring and summer, it is in that darkness when I focus best on critically thinking about what I can do better.
Of course, self-care is important, I also start to prepare myself for the darkness with enough vitamins, do sports, and keep a positive mindset that it won’t last forever. November is amazing, the colors, the different kinds of clouds you can appreciate, the sound of the ravens, and the animals collecting food for the winter.