Wednesday, 3 February 2016

The winter funk...

[About 35 days ago this post would have been titled "daylight fading" after the Counting Crows song, but we're past the Winter Solstice and the days are slowly lengthening, so that title doesn't make sense.]

Yep. The winter funk.

Except that it doesn't start in winter. It starts around the beginning of October, about the time when we have to set alarms and wake and get ready for work in the dark for a few weeks until daylight savings is no longer in effect. The days are still warm, but there is a chill in the air and the first rays of light no longer reach the kitchen.

And then November first rolls around, no more daylight savings, and we're getting up with the sun again - winter might be coming, but getting up with the sun is good. For a few weeks.

As December and the Winter Solstice creep closer, we find ourselves getting up before the sun rises or short on time if we wake when our bedroom starts filling with light. By the time we are out of the apartment, the sun is up and doing its best to warm the air, but it sets quickly and we find ourselves coming home in the dark...

We're not so far north that the sun rises and sets between 9 am and 5 pm, but Michael and I are more used to living closer to the equator and this lack of sunlight hours really does have a negative impact on our mental health.

I noticed it in Michael last year, this winter funk. And the reprieve brought on by the turning back on the clocks. And I noticed it in myself this year. It doesn't help that we're homesick, cold, stressed, anxious, and feeling very down on our luck. It also doesn't help that Michael doesn't like December-January in general and I don't like being away from my parents and siblings at this time of year, for more than one year at a time.

Ah winter funk...

And then it ices or snows and we feel like the cold is worth it (although snow is preferable).

We made the effort to indulge Jimmy's recent obsession with Christmas lights, and realised that they're not just Christmas lights - they're Winter lights, bringing light into the dark, lifting spirits (as well as electricity bills and carbon emissions...).

Speaking of Jimmy: he is the only member of our little family who seems immune to the winter funk. He's a happy little Vegemite, for whom all this seasonal stuff is the norm. He also lights up our life in a way Christmas lights never will.

The winter funk is a little debilitating, a little draining, and takes a bit of effort to shake, but it's seasonal. It's temporary. Now that we are past the Winter Solstice and the days are definitely getting longer, little by little, the funk is slowly lifting, even if the coldest days are yet to come.

When daylight savings start up in March we have a small relapse, even if the days are warmer, getting up in the dark is not my ideal. At least there is more afternoon light. Around this time the morning sunlight will no longer hit the map over the dining table and will move back across to the kitchen. The days will be longer, warmer, and we will be closer to returning to Australia... And then, hopefully, winter funk will be a memory and no longer an annual thing.

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