1 November, 2016

How to survive the darkness in November

شهر نوفمبر

November in Sweden is a pretty cold, dark month and without a major holiday to break out the celebratory glasses of spirits, it can be a tough month to trudge through when you’re new to Sweden.

According to the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, Stockholm specifically only receives an average of 35 minutes of sunlight a day in November

Here are some tips to get through November like a professional. And before you know it, you’ll be seeing paper Advent stars in every window.

1. Get A SAD Lamp

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is extremely common at this latitude. And you don’t need to wait for a doctor’s diagnosis to treat yourself.

SAD happens when our bodies don’t receive enough sunlight during the day which can alter our sleeping patterns and result in mood swings, carb binging, and the other oh-so-very attractive side effects of sleep deprivation.

Shine a SAD light on your face (it’s pretty intense), reduce your carb intake a bit, and take some multivitamins to help reduce SAD symptoms.

2. Grab some Vitamin D oil at Apoteket

Vitamin D is not fortified in the milk sold in Sweden. So you need to consume your Vitamin D separately. Children should receive one dose/day during these low sun months and so should you. Put a few drops into your morning yogurt or straight on a spoon. Vitamin D is helpful in calcium absorption and even helps in decreasing your likelihood of catching influenza, which is always a plus.

3. Leave Sweden

Depending on your budget, this may or may not be possible this year but save your kronor for November 2017 for a quick getaway to somewhere southern—anywhere with some warmth and sunlight. Höstlov (autumn holiday) is usually week 44 (I’ll let you look up the week numbers yourself for the dates). You might be able to find some cheap last minute deals if the Swedes haven’t taken them all.

4. Stay active

Once your body settles into the cracks and crevices of your couch, it becomes really hard to get moving again. Layer up, put on your hat, gloves, and thick socks and go for a walk. You may need to add a reflective vest, so you aren’t hit by a car but getting fresh air on a regular basis will help combat cabin fever.

5. Light all the lamps

I’m not talking about SAD lamps. I’m talking about good old fashioned lamps, lights, chandeliers, candles, and anything you can plug into the wall that gives off light. Before November rolls around, you want to be sure you have fresh bulbs at the ready in case you lose a crucial ceiling lamp in your hallway and have to navigate to the bathroom using your iPhone’s flashlight feature.

Reminisce about those endless sunny summer days while closing your eyes and facing your SAD light, drinking your Vitamin D oil, and planning your warm weather getaway.

Lisa Ferland is a US citizen who has been battling the darkness of Swedish Novembers or the past five years. Read her Knocked Up Abroad book series to discover more stories about multicultural pregnancy, birth, and parenting abroad experiences.

Written by Lisa Ferland

Lisa Ferland is a US citizen who has lived in a small Swedish town for nearly five years. She has published two anthologies about the cultural differences experienced during pregnancy, birth, and parenting abroad called the Knocked Up Abroad series. Find more on her blog here.

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