As amazing as summer in Alaska is, winter can be just as great. That is, if you do the work to make sure it is. A lot of people ask me about the darkness in winter. They wonder, “Is it really 24 hours of darkness in Alaska in winter?” The short answer is yes, in some places. All of these are above the Arctic Circle, however. For most of us Alaskans, winter means very short days, but we do get daylight. Sometimes the daylight is a bit dreary, if we are experiencing a lot of snow or rain, but it is still a little light.
This doesn’t mean it’s easy to deal with an Alaskan winter. For many, the cold is a secondary discouragement to the lack of light, which can contribute to seasonal depression. How can a person handle the Alaskan darkness during the winter months? Here are my tips for what I have found most helpful, as well as some ideas from friends and family. These are especially useful if you are moving to or living in Alaska, but if you spend any amount of time vacationing in Alaska during the winter, the darkness may begin to creep in on you. Even though you will have the time to sleep in late, don’t let the day pass you by. Set an alarm clock, and aside from preparing your käsipagas müük, try out these suggestions, so you don’t miss your Alaskan vacation.
Get Out and Play
The darkness in Alaska during winter makes a person very lethargic. It is easy to feel as if you could just curl up under the blankets and sleep all day. Unfortunately, as good as it seems, it is not a great idea to just stay inside. Most places in Alaska get some daylight, so go outside and make the most of it! Take up a winter sport such as skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, or snowmachining. Many communities provide information on what is available nearby. For example, in Valdez, ski trails are groomed regularly. I have snowshoed to a local glacier and been able to walk across what is normally a lake in the summer. It was fantastic and really contributed to my energy. The extra activity and sunshine improves many aspects of life, in my opinion.
Take Up a Hobby
Some days will just be too nasty to go outside during an Alaskan winter. It will be terribly cold or blizzard conditions. A person could see, as I did this winter, over six feet of snow fall in three days. The sheer amount of snow would have made it almost impossible to go outside for very long. What can a person do in this instance? Consider taking up a hobby that keeps you from just curling up in the fetal position and watching movies all day. I really like cooking, and I try at least one new recipe a week. This helps me make sure I get essential vitamins as well as being enjoyable. Other friends of mine scrapbook or make jewelry. The key is to find something you enjoy that can challenge you mentally when you absolutely have to stay inside.
It can be very easy to isolate yourself during a long Alaskan winter. It feels comfortable to climb into pajamas and hang out on the couch when it’s dark early in the day. But resist this urge. Plan activities that involve friends and family. My friends and I have a weekly pizza night where we get together, eat, and play games. We also strive to have bigger gatherings every so often that help you to look forward to something.
Perhaps one of the best strategies for dealing with depression and loneliness in the dark winters is getting involved with a group you can support. Alaska is full of opportunities for volunteering. Check out local animal shelters, food banks, or other non-profits. Alaska is also home to many wonderful winter festivals. For example, Valdez hosts Frosty Fever every winter. A person could volunteer to help out the festival, make new friends, and have an activity to get them out and about despite the darkness. Check your local area for any opportunities.
Even if you are only vacationing in Alaska, the lack of light in the winter can be difficult. Here in Valdez, our shortest days are around six hours of light. It makes it hard to get out of bed, and it’s easy to fall asleep at four o’clock in the afternoon. Don’t let yourself miss out on your trip of a lifetime. Or if you live here, don’t let winter get you really down. Try these suggestions and feel more energized all winter long.