Windy, grey and rainy weather have made this January a dull one so far, according to DR’s meteorologist Thomas Kaa Mørk in an article on the broadcaster’s website.
“Until Tuesday this week, 107.6 millimetres of rain have fallen [in January]. That’s the third-largest amount in January since records began in 1874,” Mørk told DR.
Additionally, this month has so far seen 17.3 hours of sunshine. The normal total for January is 52 hours, so with 11 days of the month remaining it looks like the average will not be reached.
A chronic lack of sunshine can make the first month of the year begin to feel interminable, professor of photonics at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Paul Michael Petersen, told DR. Petersen researches the effect of light on human health.
“Having a healthy life is dependent on the light in our surroundings. At the same time, unhealthy light can have a large negative consequence for people,” he said.
“The problem in Denmark is that there’s simply not enough light, and the light we do have doesn’t really have the right colours to make us well-functioning,” he told DR.
“This was useful in the past because when it was dark, there was no reason to spend a lot of energy finding food, because it was hard to find. But today it’s not very useful to be partly in hibernation when you arrive at work,” he said.
“The best thing you can do to compensate for the lack of light in January is to be outside a lot during daytime especially in the morning and afternoon,” he said.
Feeling lower on energy in winter compared to summer is not solely due to the light, though, another expert told DR.
“The days are short and you might have less mental energy to do the things that are good for your mental health. But it’s important not to just go home after work and sit down and slump,” researcher Charlotte Bjerre Meilstrup, who leads the project ABC for mental sundhed (mental health) at the University of Copenhagen’s Institute for Psychology, said to DR.
The project has three specific pieces of advice that can be applied at times when the winter month of January really feels like it’s dragging, she said.
“Do something active – this could be something physically active, but it could also be mental. Read a book or solve a sudoku,” she said to DR.
Being active with others, limiting isolation, is also important at a time of year when there are fewer public events going on.
“Do something together – being part of a community or something for other people has a huge impact on mental wellbeing,” she said.
Finally, the mental health expert advised doing “something meaningful – and remember that what is meaningful for others is not necessarily meaningful for you”.