Spring is suffering an identity crisis
Those of us looking at an Easter break of more frigid and dismal days won’t be thrilled at the news that record numbers of British holidaymakers are booking last-minute travels to lands that promise sunshine, warmth and bodies bared to the elements instead of bracing against the cold. Meanwhile, we’ll be welcoming April more like Scandinavians than Spaniards.
Which got me thinking: how do our Nordic neighbours cope with copious snow and cold for months on end? If their exported crime dramas are to be believed, they’re all too busy chasing homicidal maniacs in their Volvos whilst wearing sensible knitwear to notice the temperatures, but I suspect that’s an unfair generalisation. The Scandinavians of my acquaintance all drive VWs, for a start.
Since Britain’s not going to look anything like Ibiza anytime soon, we might as well make like we, too, live in the land of the midnight sun. Starting with:
● Let there be light. Boxes, that is. Technically the sun does still make an occasional appearance over the British Isles, but that doesn’t mean we’re getting enough Vitamin D or any of the other vital benefits of sunshine. Have you spent the past few months feeling particularly sluggish, fatigued, sad or irritable? Do you avoid social or physical contact, crave sugary foods and generally feel a bit blue? You could be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. Don’t do anything without speaking to your GP, but light boxes, which mimic the effects of daylight on hormone levels, work well for some people who suffer from SAD.
● Fire. You may not have a fireplace or wood burner and it’s likely a springtime bonfire wouldn’t be welcomed by your neighbours or local council, but there’s nothing to stop you adding a few candles to brighten things up. Well, your lease might stop you. Or the threat of small children, pets or absentmindedness, but used responsibly candles can add a cheery glow when evenings draw in.
● A nourishing meal. Scandinavians love nothing more than a jolly big (candlelit) feast with friends and family and though Christmas Eve and Midsummer are the main times to celebrate with lots of food and good company, they don’t limit socialising to the holidays. My Little Norway touches on this in the brilliant post, How to survive the dark winters, which has plenty of useful advice that translates to their southern counterparts. So buy some fish (good for so many things, including vitamins A and D), fire up the electric range cooker and get your mates around – guaranteed to lift your spirits and boost your nutritional intake.
● Bundle up and get down with the cold. Yes, it looks miserable outside, but so what? Make the effort to exercise anyway and you’ll be glad you did – if only because you can enjoy all the extra calories you’re craving, smug in the knowledge you’ve earned them. Or try a new winter sport. It’s surprising how many sled dog clubs exist in Britain, with events that are open to all. Hopefully the snow is now behind us but you can still look for a local ski slope (indoor or outdoor) or ice rink or try Nordic walking.
● Prioritise. Try to get on top of those jobs you won’t want to do when the weather’s perfect for just soaking up the sunshine. Tackle the hedge trimming, turn over some soil, dig a new border, sharpen your mower blades, make a plan to landscape or do house repairs or clean the car or wash the windows.
Last of all, don’t lose hope. Before you know it, summer will be here with enough rain and cloud cover to satisfy all your whinging needs.
A one-time journalist for metropolitan daily newspapers in the USA, Laura Potts moved to England in 2005 where she is a writer and editor. She plans to spend the Easter break with her children and an array of hats, scarves and mittens.