Dawn is easy to find this time of year, in New Brunswick. It happens so late in the day that most people who are not teenagers are likely to up when the sun appears. By the same token, the sun sets early, too….earlier and earlier for the next six weeks. I am grateful to be living here on Atlantic time. When I lived in Bangor, Maine, on Eastern time (but only a wee bit to the west of here), the sun was effectively gone from the sky well before four pm in latest fall. It always seems hard to me to go to work in the dark and return from work in the dark; to have all of the daylight hours taken by work, presumably indoor work. But when I lived in Maine, that four pm darkness was really hard to take.
We exacerbate the body’s struggle with the dark hours by adding a time change to the situation. The decision-makers don’t live here. They live in a more moderate, more temperate, more middle place, one where the length of day doesn’t fluctuate as much with the calendar. They may also live a more indoor life. When the light your body lives in is generated artificially, internal processes change. There are concrete, physiological reasons why people feel better in the summer, at least in this climate, and sun exposure is a part of that. So as the days grow longer, I get out my therapy lightbox and make sure that most days I get some sunlight or some light from the box. I notice the ways that we as a society create cultural experiences and values to help us get through this darkness. I carefully consider what I need and want to support me in feeling well and whole while the darkness feels encompassing. And I actively try to think positive thoughts about the dark days.
What changes do you notice in your body as the days get shorter?
How do you honour the body’s needs? Are you able to sit back and reflect on what you need during this time of year?
Can you notice the pull of social demands around the holidays and then choose whether and how to join in? More on that later….