Winter in the northern hemisphere, and particularly in the UK, can be…challenging; especially if you come from a sunny country. This post will share some coping strategies I have found useful.
Easy things first, the plummeting temperature. People that are native to the UK say that they have four seasons, spring, summer, autumn (fall) and winter. Some of us from sunnier countries know that this isn’t really true. For us, the UK has two seasons, three if it’s a good year; these are winter and autumn. With this in mind, layering can mean the difference between being able to concentrate while at university or freezing your toosh (bum) off because you didn’t’ wear enough clothing. Invest in good thermal under garments if you can, they will come to good use.
At this point I must advise you to always carry an umbrella. You might be wondering “why always?” or “surely it doesn’t rain in winter”. Ah, but this is where you would be mistaken. UK weather, and particularly in Manchester, is like buying a lucky packet; you’re not entirely sure what you’re going to get but you take the chance to buy it anyway in hope of it having something good. The weather forecast might say ‘sunny’ or ‘just partly cloudy’, though this doesn’t mean it won’t rain. If anything, always expect rain and keep hope alive for some sunshine. Also, the winds can be a doozy (a bit excessive).
The cold aside, the change in daylight has been the hardest thing for me to deal with. Let me put this into perspective; in winter, sunrise and sunset is around 06:30 and 18:00 respectively in my home country; though chilly (sometimes lows of -5°C), the days are usually sunny. On average, in the UK, sunrise and sunset is around 08:30 and 16:00 respectively during winter.
The best way I’ve been able to deal with this has been to slightly change my work schedule. Waking up earlier, with the sun, and getting along with my work earlier has meant that by the time dusk hits and I go into ‘shutdown mode’, I’ve still been able to get my work done. The darker winter can also make some people suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder). At some point I also considered getting a daylight lamp which, as the name implies, simulates daylight. This would also be a good option to deal with the vast daylight changes.
Maplin 10,000 Lux Full Size SAD Light, £44.99 Beurer TL40 Daylight Lamp, £71.99 at Argos
Surrounding yourself with friends and being social also helps; one of the last things you want to do is to isolate yourself for extended periods of time, particularly if you’re feeling low. On a lighter note, this time of year also brings the Christmas markets. At the very least, the colder days are a reason to enjoy frequent cups of hot chocolate and to feel less guilty about staying in bed a bit longer than usual.