Published in Shetland Life magazine, Oct 2018
The other day I was asked by a visitor, “how do you Shetlanders manage to survive the long winter months?”, and I gave my standard response of “Embrace the weather, make the most of the light and have a project”
Shetland winters can be oppressive and bleak if that’s how you think about them. But you can consciously adopt a positive mindset. A change in the weather is inevitable, so there’s nothing to be gained from grumbling about it.
(I’ve convinced myself that) late autumn, as the nights close in, is my favourite time of year. The wind gets stronger, the rain gets heavier and we’re perpetually aware of the power of nature. It provides balance to the long bright summers and reminds us of the cyclic nature of the seasons.
I love being tucked up in bed with the howl of the wind at the window and the white noise of the rain on the bedroom roof. Equally, I like to get out amongst it. A blast of wind and rain is an invigorating experience, and it’s good to get back inside, have a hot shower and get your smucks on.
And we should try to get as much sunlight as possible. Get outside for a walk at midday or sit by a window to make sure your body can generate some vitamin D. This helps regulate moods and fends of Seasonal Affected Depression. Regular sunlight also helps regulate the body’s circadian rhythms which affect your sleep patterns and energy levels.
But my favourite aspect of the winter months is the opportunity to get my brain engaged in a project, usually working on music or studying something. I find it to be a reflective and peaceful time when I can focus. If you don’t already have a project in mind, consider enrolling on a local evening class (learnshetland.com) or one of the 1000s of free online courses (have a look at coursera.org, futurelearn.com, edxedx.org and open.edu).
I’ll leave you with the words of my favourite lyricist, James Murphy of the band LCD Soundsystem. “If you’re worried about the weather, then you picked the wrong place to stay”