I know everyone jokes about the high volume of rainfall in Scotland – for good reason, it rains A LOT, especially during winter. I didn’t really ever think about the impact that can have on your mental health until we moved to the USA and we experienced a very different kind of winter.
At home in Scotland, we have much fewer daylight hours during the winter and it is not uncommon for people to drive to work in the dark, drive home in the dark and not see any real daylight all day. In the dead of winter sunrise is about 08.45 and sunset around 15.50. Even on the days that are dry – and we do have some lovely clear, crisp, winter days – that isn’t a lot of daylight and it can start to get you down after a while. Everyone needs a bit of sunshine in their life!
However, we discovered that here in Pennsylvania we have about 2.5hours extra daylight in the winter but the main thing is how much brighter the days are here. It usually rains much less here too so the skies are brighter and I have basically been wearing my sunglasses all year round which has been a bit of a novelty. I say usually because the last few weeks have been giving Scotland a run for its money in the rainfall stakes!
I really noticed the difference when we went home for a visit at Christmas. We drove to the airport with the sunlight in our eyes and it felt like a lovely sunny day, albeit December. When we arrived at Edinburgh Airport, the skies felt dark and grey even though it was mid-morning, and although I was over the moon to be home, I really noticed the contrast.
Over the last few months I have started to notice how the difference in weather has impacted my mood. I feel a lot brighter and more energised than I often would do as winter finally gives way into spring. Although it has been cold, and boy has it been cold, the extra sunshine has made such a difference to my mental health.
I think everyone has good days and bad days with mental health but I recently had a run of bad days, which coincided with a run of bad weather and it really made me take note. My parents had been to visit for two weeks and we had had some lovely sunny days and we all really enjoyed being able to spend time with them. Their last visit had been in November when the weather was getting pretty cold and a lot of the places they might want to visit were closing or closed for the winter (that’s a rant for another blog!).
However, at some point they obviously had to go home and I felt a bit down when they left. A day later, Hubby had to go away for work and the kids were acting up because it was a little overwhelming since the Grandparents and their Daddy seemed to be leaving at the same time. Truth be told, I was a bit overwhelmed myself! Days later my sister-in-law gave birth to my lovely niece and I really wished we could pack up and go home to meet her and see all of our friends and family. I guess I was just feeling a little homesick.
Then came the rain. I don’t just mean that metaphorically, there was actual rain. It seemed like it was saved up for the weekends too when we wanted to get out with the kids and that just made everyone feel a little ‘cooped up’ and didn’t help anyone’s mood. I felt down and lethargic and I just wanted to curl up under a blanket with a good book. Funnily enough, a 4 year old and a 2 year old won’t stand for that for long. They want to be entertained so we had to soldier on!
Hubby has been doing a lot of travelling over the last 4 weeks and it has taken its toll a bit but thankfully, he’s home for a while now… fingers crossed. I know there will be fellow Military Spouses reading this who are having to function as a family divided by thousands of miles. This time last year, that was us – See Go Big or Go Home.
Please don’t think I’m being dramatic moaning about a few weeks apart: My point is that even a few weeks of separation can have a negative impact on your mental health so take time to recognise the potential impact that longer separations can have. Take some time for self care. I’m a big believer in ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ so if anyone reading this is feeling low, please talk to someone about how you are feeling. It could make the world of difference.
On a lighter note, thankfully now the temperature is starting to improve, the sunglasses are back out and with it I can feel my mood lifting. Thank goodness for the sunshine after the rain…
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