Jilly: Nothing But Good Times Ahead

Nothing But Good Times AheadLess than two weeks to go, thank goodness. Not to my birthday (fast approaching), Christmas (bah, humbug) or New Year’s Eve (for followers of the Gregorian calendar), but to a positive turning point for my well-being and creativity. At 11 minutes past five o’clock on Saturday 21 December, the sun will be at its southernmost point in the sky, which means that for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere we will be experiencing the shortest day and longest night of the year.

Over in Japan, Michaeline’s saving energy and writing in the cold snuggled under a fleecy lap-robe with a hot water bottle. Here in England, I’ve got my usual mild dose of the winter blues. It’s a potential problem for anyone living in a country where there are significant changes to the daylight, weather and temperature between seasons, which includes those of us in Europe and North America. It’s rarely observed in people who live near the equator, where daylight hours are consistent and the sun shines brightly all year round. My brother, who’s in the UK for a pre-Christmas family visit, commented that he used to experience it between January and March every year, but hasn’t had it once since he moved to the Caribbean. Food for thought there. His home has a very nice guest bedroom 🙂

The UK charity Mind estimates that in Northern Europe one person in ten experiences some of the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Luckily I’m a relentlessly positive person and my symptoms aren’t severe, but this time of year I spend a lot of time giving myself pep-talks. I’m naturally an early riser, and infuriatingly cheerful in the mornings, but around now I could stay under the duvet till lunch-time. I want more chocolate, another glass of wine, and I don’t feel like making plans, taking the initiative, or going the extra mile on anything.

I love writing, but this time of year every word is a product of sheer bloody-mindedness. There’s none of the glorious rush of creativity Justine talked about on Friday. I’m more likely to be assiduously ignoring my Bad Wolf, who’s in his element telling me that I should be finished by now, that I still have so much to do, that I should have chosen a different story, that it’s boring and slow, and nobody will want to read it when it’s done anyway. I believe with all my heart that he’s wrong, but it takes energy to keep him locked down.

So here’s the good part: in less than two weeks from now, the days will start to get lighter. We’ll still be in the depths of winter, but there’s something about things getting a little bit brighter every day that feeds my soul. It’s my time of greatest energy and creativity. Last year I needed all that positive mojo to deal with a double whammy of family emergencies but (fingers crossed, touch wood) all that seems to be behind us, so this year I’m going to make the most of every single moment. Kay wrote this post a few weeks ago about discovering your most productive time of day. I think there’s also something to be said for knowing your most productive time of year.

Sound the trumpets, and salute the Winter Solstice. I’m not a Druid, a Pagan, or a Wiccan, but I’ll be celebrating with them.

Do you suffer from the winter blues? Do you have any tips for keeping them under control?

Is there a particular time of year when you’re super-productive?

9 thoughts on “Jilly: Nothing But Good Times Ahead

  1. VERY much on my mind lately, too! Although, it’ll be December 22 in Japan before the “days get longer and the cold gets stronger.” I hate coming home from work in the dark (it’s 3:50 p.m. right now, and the sun is down, the sky is dimming), and it’s often a really hard time of year for me.

    (-: Aside from keeping warm, I take vitamin D3 pills, try to get out into the sun at noon for a quick walk, and . . . well, that’s about it. Strangely, sardines with bones in really helps boost my mood . . . . Maybe not so strange. The calcium is a good thing, and fish oil has a lot of Vitamin D. Oh, and hot baths, and indulging in extra sleep.

    (-: Only two weeks left of the dark.

  2. While not on the equator, winter is actually a great time here in Arizona. It’s not so hot that one can fry and egg on the sidewalk, or that we have to keep the ceiling fans on all the time at home to avoid sweating in one’s own skin, even while at rest. In winter, it can get cold at night (I do have my hibiscus covered right now to avoid frost), but that typically only lasts about a month. During the day, I only need a light jacket to stay warm. The sun is out most of the time, and it’s refreshing to get outside and sit, walk, or ride my bike.

    That said, it’s also hard to sit at my desk with such beautiful weather beckoning. It’s probably why I have my blinds drawn in my office, to block out the beautiful weather so I can remain focused on writing.

    For me, the winter solstice means just a few more months until hot, scorching weather. *sigh* In the northern hemisphere, everyone else’s summer is my winter — you stay inside to avoid the weather. 🙂 And being forced to stay inside is a good motivator to write.

    • The Mind article said that some people suffer the symptoms of SAD in the summer. Makes sense if they have to hide away from extreme heat. I’m trying to imagine it.

      Your winter sounds lovely, though, Justine!

    • This brings back a great memory — my husband’s grandmother used to grow hibiscus. I think she had 10 or 20 pots, and every winter, she’d bring them into the living room in front of the south patio windows. My own grandparents had plants they brought in for the winter, too — I think mostly begonias, in the big south-facing window. I wonder if that’s another old-fashioned strategy for beating the winter — if you spend five or ten minutes in the sunshine-y window tending something green, maybe it cheers you up and gives a little sun boost.

      (-: Although, in your case, it’s a matter of NOT getting out into the sun. Days are still short; if you can write when it’s dark, you can wear the kids out when it’s sunny (-:.

      I know at least one of our regulars uses a light box to help beat SADD.

  3. Winter’s a tough one for me. I grew up in the Midwest, and not only is it dark all the time, it’s freezing all the time, too. Plus covered in snow. So I was depressed all the time. I live in California now, so the weather is not that extreme. But I still don’t like the short days. Thank you for reminding me that we’re coming up soon on the shortest day of the year! Nothing but good times ahead.

Let Us Know What You Think

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s