Top Five Ways to Light Up Your Life

By: V. Palmer

Top Five Ways to Light Up Your Life

Hello from Bonnie Scotland!

Where else can you enjoy four distinct seasons surrounded by heather covered hills and forests filled with evergreen?  Where the whisky is powerful enough to forever change my spelling of the word, and is best enjoyed with men in skirts.  Where, if you played one a day, it would take about a year and a half to enjoy every golf course in Scotland.

My husband and I have lived in Aberdeen for almost three years now and the green hills dotted with fluffy white sheep and burnt orange Highland coos (cows) never get old. Like wine connoisseurs, we are learning the flavor maps of local whisky while attempting to develop a game of golf worthy of its birthplace.  Not at the same time, of course.

June and July offer nineteen hours of daylight to enjoy above-mentioned benefits of living in Scotland.  Summer is a never ending garden party and a fabulous time to live in this beautiful corner of the world.  No doubt about it.  The avid golfer can leave work at 5:00 p.m. and enjoy eighteen holes and still have daylight for the drive home.

However, November, December, and January flips the coin on that mother lode of daylight.  The longest day, in late December, will finally wake the sun up around 8:46 a.m. and quickly fall back asleep at 3:27 p.m.  It is during these months when bodies not accustomed to the darkness sometimes rebel and normal sunny dispositions become a veil of doom and gloom.

Meanwhile, in the midst of my third Scottish winter, I have devised a few strategies for beating the Winter Blues. My own way to deal, if you will.  

In no particular order, please peruse my…

Top Five Ways to Light Up Your Life...

1)    Take A Hike

As mentioned above, we are surrounded by beautiful hills for every level of ‘hill walker’, which may be covered in a wee bit of snow this time of year, but walks are still possible.  The American Women’s Association of Aberdeen, AWA, and other groups around have organized hikes throughout the year.  The key is to get out of the house and make the most of what few hours of daylight appear. The views never cease to amaze and the fresh air will snap you out of those sneaky doldrums.

2)    Eat Your Sunshine

My diet becomes much more intentional this time of year and a vitamin D supplement is popped daily.  Before moving to Scotland, I was one of ‘those people’ who thought it all mumbo jumbo about the lack of sunlight being able to alter one’s mood.  It all sounded a bit dramatic to me.  Well this is where I ask for your forgiveness for my judgmental tone and plead complete ignorance.  So, for you others out there, who have never lived in the higher latitudes, let me hear a BIG ‘bless her heart’.  Well, I did the research, which involved me Google-ing what others have researched and now plan my meals accordingly.

3)    When Stuck Inside…Play With Friends

There are very few days when transportation is impossible so getting together with friends is usually manageable, if you are willing to make it happen.  We play Mahjong every Friday and I dare you to mess with our Mahjong Fridays!  We are like postal employees and will travel through rain, sleet and snow.  This past year a few of us even tried our hand, or should I say, entire bodies at something completely foreign and new…curling.  I will never question whether or not this game should be included in the Olympics…ever…again.

4)    Carpe Diem

My husband learned long ago to never enter our home at the end of the day and have the nerve to ask me what I did on that given day.  He did it once and still tells the story.  Well, during the winter, on sunny days, he has learned to have very low expectations for anything getting done around the house.  If that sun is out, I am sitting in whatever room provides the largest ray of glorious sunshine and reading my newly arrived Southern Living .  As the sun begins to set, I move upstairs to absorb every morsel.  If I feel like multi-tasking, the wash will get done because of my ridiculously small but magical washing machine.  I insert my dirty clothes and three hours later they are clean and dry.  I know right?  Pretty amazing. Anyway, all I am saying is, you need to seize the day, and if possible, stop what you are doing and absorb that sunshine when it is smiling down on your punkin' head.  

5)    Make Your Own Sunshine

After not two, but three of our monthly AWA meeting were sabotaged by snow, i.e. low attendance, we took matters into our own hands.  We made our own sun and guaranteed sunshine at the next meeting.  Low and behold, when the April meeting came around, the year winter would not go away, there was more dreary snow, prolonging the hibernation of our bright yellow daffodils.   However, inside we were gathering underneath a banner of smiling yellow sunshine.  Everyone by that point, like those impatient daffodils, was sick of the weather cramping their style so they braved the roads and joined us. On my way home that very afternoon, I noticed brave green leaves protruding through the snow.  Take that, winter. Hmmmmfff.  For some of you, this might involve leaving on a jetplane to somewhere sunshine is guaranteed like many here in Scotland who plan sunny getaways during the months of January or February like a virtual light at the end of a dark tunnel.  Whatever is within your budget, take control and make it happen. 

So, for those of you who find yourself in the higher latitudes of this amazing earth, join me this winter, as we collectively light up the dark days ahead.  What is your go-to way to avoid the winter blues?  Please share your tried and true tips in the comment section below.  


About the author

Expat Blog ListingV. Palmer is an American expat living in Scotland. Blog description: Move to Scotland + empty nest = blogging about new in the Granite City of Aberdeen and beyond.
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Contest Comments » There are 6 comments

Mary wrote 10 years ago:

As a Floridian girl living in Scotland, too, I completely understand how depressing winter in this country can be. I love your tips! When I start to get the winter blues, I force myself to get outside and take a wander through a new part of town. The weather might be awful, but at least I'm trying! :)

Sharon wrote 10 years ago:

I just wrote a book about spicing up roast chicken dinners. I first started doing this when I was living in Scotland and I talked about the warmth that I felt when I lived there. You can check out the recording here... I wasn't a big whiskey fan when I was younger, but I acquired the taste as I got older. Lucky me :-) I have recently started to drink Hot Toddies. I remember when you couldn't put a single malt in a drink or people shunned you. Now I order my Hot Toddies with Balvenie. The other great cocktail I love is the Choc Ed. I used to order this in London at Albanach. It's an Edradour and Cherry Herring cocktail. Yum. They also used to serve Squid stuffed with Haggis there too. A big hit. Ah, you are making me feel sentimental... Thanks for the post.

Alison Chino wrote 10 years ago:

I LOVE this list! I am definitely standing by the window if the sun is shining in Aberdeen. It's my first winter here, so I'll be checking out the diet as well and I'm already planning a January getaway to somewhere warm and sunny! :)

Nary wrote 10 years ago:

I totally agree with all of the above! IAlso, if you can't get out into the sunshine because you are stuck in an office all day, then I recommend a SAD lamp. It worked for me:)

Jillian wrote 10 years ago:

Great post, Vicki and they all for sure make my top 5!! So glad to be apart of almost all your ways to beat the winter blues! Look forward to giving them a swift kick when you get back!!

Susan wrote 10 years ago:

Vicki, you have captured the beauty and wonder of Scotland even in the dark! Feeling very blessed to have lived in this part of the world!

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