Darker Days Don’t Have to be a Drag

How did the days get so short? What happened to our blissfully bright, long days? Where did the time go? I feel like it was just yesterday when it was light until 10 pm and I wanted to run around soaking up every ounce of sun I could. Now, I want to hibernate until at least 8 am and then head back to bed in thick, warm sweats with my hot cup of tea by 7 pm (and 7 is late right now – it will be even earlier before we know it)!

Some people are blissfully unaffected by daylight savings time (DST) and others feel out of sorts for days (I’m the latter). There are folks who support DST and those who don’t. Ultimately, it’s something most of us have to adjust to. But we don’t just have to adjust – we can thrive during those darker days and winter months with these tips:

Purchase a “happy light.” These are technically called “mood lights” but I call mine a “happy light.” These lights give you more daylight when it’s dark. I keep mine on in the bathroom when I’m getting ready in the morning. You could keep it on your desk at work or in the kitchen while you are cooking; there are many options. Many of our local stores carry these lights starting this time of year.

Exercise daily. Working out releases serotonin, a chemical in the brain that helps our bodies adjust and regulate in many ways, including the changes we see in light this time of year. By exercising regularly, we develop healthy habits and feel good! This is the perfect time to try something new – a brisk morning walk/run, a new fitness class, swimming, you name it! Bellingham is one of the best places to be during these darker months. Why? Our climate is mild and we can be active year round. We have indoor facilities (YMCA or Arne Hanna Aquatic Center) as well as trails, mountains and businesses in town (Fairhaven Runners) who coordinate expert-led group activities. All you have to do is show up! Avoid exercising too late in the evening, though, as this could interfere with the quality of your sleep.
Have proper gear on-hand. If you plan on exercising outdoors as the daylight gets shorter, make sure you have the proper gear to do it. No matter what you are doing, you will want to have: reflective wear (jacket, vest, etc.), at least 2-4 lights (I wear a blinking light on my chest and back and wear a headlamp on my head), gloves, ear warmers, and any other clothing that is comfortable for your workout.

Watch your eating times. Know that you may get hungry earlier with the days getting shorter. Make sure you have snacks on hand. Eating too late may affect your sleep.

Gather friends. Get your friends together for a regular, weekly activity – a recipe/dish exchange, group hike, book club, or a Ladies Night or Man Night at a local gym. You’ll have support, accountability, and a whole lot of fun.
Keep a journal. As the seasons change, note how you feel. Keeping a journal is a great way to track any habits and feelings that surface (positive or negative). You can take the time and opportunity to settle and celebrate anything that comes up.

Embrace the time change and know that it is temporary. I love the way the Bellingham Tourism Bureau describes our city:

“Where can you go to just be yourself? Be inspired by magnificent scenery. Be challenged by a culture of outdoor recreation including hiking, biking, running, climbing, camping, kayaking, sailing, golf and snow sports. Be spirited at local breweries, wineries, distilleries and pubs. Be entertained by artists and musicians in charming villages and venues. Be playful at uncrowded shorelines, parks and family attractions. Be indulged by sensational restaurants specializing in Pacific Northwest flavors.”

Wow! Where else can you find all of this? Only in Bellingham!

Shasonta Delmage is founder of LiveFit, a personal training organization in Whatcom County. She is an NASM Certified Personal Trainer, Functional Movement Systems specialist, and Russian Kettlebell Enthusiast. She trains 1:1 and small group classes at CrossFit X.

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