February 13, 2018

Light Gatherers

When the cold starts to get under your skin, when you grow weary of your alarm going off in the dark mornings, when the rain beats down upon the window, you may ask yourself: where is the sunlight? According to Norman E. Rosenthal, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine, 6% of the US population, primarily in northern climates, is affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Yet another 14% of the adult US population suffers from a lesser form known as winter blues.

My husband grew up in New Zealand and in the winter of 2010 he came down with a serious case of the winter blues. We were living in London at the time and he grew to despise the grey skies and mizzle of the London weather. Taking a stab in the dark, I bought him a SAD lamp in the hope that a little light therapy would help. When placed behind his desk at home it looked like bright sunshine coming through the window and it definitely made a difference in his mood. I have also heard of people using SAD alarm clocks to help them get up in the morning – to be honest don’t we all need one?

The hygge lovers amongst us light a ton of candles as a way to stave off the winter darkness. I’m in love with these candles from P.F. Candle Co. at the moment with their understated packaging and nostalgic scents. The Danes, who know a few things about long, dark winters, are Europe’s biggest consumers of candles, burning through about 6kg per person every year. What better way to get through the dark winter evenings by filling your home with wonderful, flickering candlelight? Whether it be over a warm bowl of stew at your dining table, or letting the light dance on the walls of your bathroom when you need to unwind in a hot bath, there is something magical about candle light.

So how can you bring more light into your home? Do you need to invest in a new lamp on your bedside table, or in a reading nook? Are you feeling more celebratory and want to make a statement with a new lampshade? Check out Sarah’s post about her love affair with light fixtures. Perhaps you could repaint a wall with a lighter colour? Adding a mirror would help bounce light around. As we spend so much time indoors during the winter months, it is so important to do whatever it takes to help you feel positive and comfortable in your own space. Many cultures in the Northern Hemisphere have some kind of festival of light during the dark months. These are a time of celebration, but they are also a way to lift people’s spirits through the long winter months. It’s all about gathering people together and promoting the feeling of being ‘home’.

Carol Ann Duffy, the current British poet laureate was very much a part of every teenager’s English education. I fell in love with her modern take on romance and the awkwardness of growing up. She has a beautiful poem about light which is about her daughter, it has such a warmth and magic to it: “Light gatherer. You fell from a star into my lap, the soft lamp at the bedside mirrored in you, and now you shine like a snowgirl.” So go gather your light, collect your friends, your family and bring some light into your home.


Just joining us? Winter at Home is a six week program devoted to all things winter survival at home. And we’re not talking perfection here — we’re talking about deeply enjoying the season with board games, cozy fires, warm socks, and handicrafts, leaving behind our piles of laundry and messy kitchens until we run out of spoons for hot chocolate. Check back often and please stay a while!

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