If you have always lived in a country with plenty of sunshine and good weather, you are more likely to have developed habits that involve spending time outside. What if your new home doesn't have a beach or its outdoors generally aren't as inviting? Going abroad on an assignment to a country with a different, cooler climate might affect you in ways that go beyond the common culture shock.

Everybody's heard of the "winter blues" that regularly affects 25 % of the population (question: is that also the case for the folks down under? Do they feel blue during their winter months of July and August? Please leave a comment! :-)) I was only recently reminded of how sluggish and tired I sometimes felt during my four years living in Scotland, where flippantly speaking the sun didn't come out between October and March. At first I thought it was a general feeling of fatigue or stress, the kind that happens during university years. But when plenty of sleep and chocolate didn't take the edge off, I had to look for another explanation.

Lack of sunlight may affect you in different ways: it has been linked to mild forms of depression, and your body is less likely to produce sufficient Vitamin D. The website irishhealth.com recently quoted findings from a study published in Diabetes Care saying "Vitamin D deficiency may be linked to heart disease and diabetes in older people (...)"

Autumn (or fall, if you're in the States) is upon us, and I invite you this week to take a stroll outside and soak in those rays of UV-A and B if you can. Don't forget to put on lotion with an SPF factor of at least 15 though! Moderation is key, as with everything else in life. If it keeps on raining and you can't control the weather, you may consider upping your Vitamin D intake through supplements or incorporate eggs, fortified milk products, codliver oil, fatty fish, and mushrooms into your diet.

If you are suffering from SAD (seasonal affective disorder) or depression, please contact your trusted physician. You can also find information, for example on light therapy, here and here.

Til next week, have a good one!

Image by DezinerFolio, flickr, Creative Commons License

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