Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Light Therapy in Stockholm

There are times I really question my move to Sweden. Those times are called November. The worst month in Sweden. Ever. November is followed closely by February, but February has the benefit of days getting longer, not shorter.

I was reminded of the overall worthlessness that is November the other day on my way to a hockey game. Sitting on the train staring dumbly out the window I saw a man with his eyes closed, head tilted up, standing in front of a billboard. This is not normal behavior. Even in Sweden in November.

My eyes moved from the man to the billboard. Clearly this must be the greatest billboard ever. And it turns out it was.

Skandia, an insurance and online banking company, has billboards throughout Stockholm that are backlit stating “Lite ljusterapi i höstmörkret. Ett enkelt sätt att motverka lättare depressioner.” Horribly translated: A little light therapy in the autumn darkness. An easy way to combat mild depression.

First, this is awesome. It’s taking advantage of the season. It’s funny. And apparently it works, or at least the light therapy part works, no idea if Skandia has sold any extra car insurance policies lately.

Second, this is awful. Who wants to live in a country where people feel the need to stand in front of an advertisement to get light therapy because there is so little daylight? Me. I apparently want to do that. Because here I am.

Welcome to Sweden. You have been warned.

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  1. Well, atleast you don't live waaaay up north, where I was born and used to live.

    3 hours, at most, of sunshine during winter and then we have the constant 24/7 sunshine during the summers.

  2. Floridian in FinlandNovember 17, 2009 at 12:15 PM

    Worthlessness? What about Thanksgiving to look forward to?! And all the Christmas parties coming in Dec. Jan is the worst IMO (no xmas lights/trees, presents or glögg) which I why I have saved 3 weeks of vacation to be somewhere warm. You sound pretty homesick these days. Hope you make it through to the light.

  3. Well. yea it bad, but hey
    it's at least not as bad as it is in tokyo.
    There you can buy fresh oxygene in cans.
    And why?
    Bacause the air so so damn polluted.

  4. @mamaya - a good point. the land of extremes way up there.

    @Floridian - well come on now, theres no Thanksgiving in Sweden. And until I can watch a full day of football and gorge myself on turkey Thanksgiving wont be the same.

    and I just realized I do sound very homesick which is strange because I dont really feel any more homesick than usual. Ill just blame the dark.

    @Xenolyse - yeah, thats not good.

  5. Floridian in FinlandNovember 17, 2009 at 1:19 PM

    Just because there's no Tday in Sweden doesn't mean you can't have your own...we have two (with turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing and all the good stuff)! Any country that doesn't sell whole turkeys is uncivilized. I'm sure you can get it there.

    You can get this channel in Sweden: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ESPN_America

  6. Tip: when you do try the billboard thingy, have your eyes open. Light therapy only works when your eyes catch the light.

    We tried this one last week: http://www.iglo.se. It's a bit hippie, and we were a bit skeptical, but we do seem to have more energy this week...

    This November seems to suck extra, because it has been cloudy sins what, August? So even when the sun's supposed to be out, it's still dark.

  7. You're just going through the first step of experiencing the Swedish winter, talking about how tired you are of the darkness. The next step is where you talk about how tired you are of talking about how tired you are of the darkness...

    God, why did humans ever come here..?

  8. about that train atmosphere you certainly got a point there. this is how a Swede explained subway cars to me "terrible with miserable people".
    and about the ad. in fact this is the first time i see people can actually get some benefits from an ad! and by the way have you seen that one saying "the art of farting" ?

  9. At some point over the weekend the sun came out, and so me and some of my corridor mates went for a walk to the park near Flogsta. We stood facing the sun with our eyes closed for a good five minutes or so, before the clouds covered the sun again. It was awesome ;).

    But really it is amazing what an effect not seeing the sun can have. I didn't think it would be a big deal, but now that I am here I understand!

  10. Oh, yeah, it's depressing alright...

  11. The pineal gland is located roughly behind the third eye (low in the center of the forehead). It is sensitive to light despite not being directly connected to the eyes, and governs photo-period depression and sleep duration (among other things). It can be stimulated effectively just as Jessy described. One thing I question about the ad is whether the light from it has the spectral signature of sunlight; it will be far more effective if true.

    Over here, we've got our elk in the freezer and are looking forward to an elk dinner - none of your loathesome sand-dry turkey for us on thanksgiving.

  12. On Nyhetsmorgon this morning i heard that Karlstad have had 1 hour of sun since the beginning of november. they also reminded us of taking a picture of the sun when it's there so we dont forget how it looks like..

  13. i long for jan-feb when theres a lot of white snow at least.

  14. Last week we had three days in a row of grey skies and rain, and I thought I was going to slit my wrists. I don't know how y'all do it in Sweden every year.

  15. You couldn't have wrote this at a better time. I was going to give up today. I mean, it's not that Sweden is so short on sunlight in winter. And it's not that it is ALWAYS cloudy and windy and rainy. It's that it has be f#ckin both. All I want to do is sleep! And I don't have much motivation. No joyfull smiles. I don't have anything to say to people, so I am quiet. Holy shit! I am becoming one of them...But nonetheless I am still, somehow, happy to be here. I have to throw a bone to Sverige. It is time for glögg again which won my heart last Christmas.

  16. @Floridian – true. And I always do. But November just doesnt have the same ooomf as back home.

    @Geert – good tip. Maybe Ill give it a shot next time instead of just standing around like an idiot taking pictures of it.

    @Robban – no one knows Robban. No one knows.

    @Tod – I have not seen the art of farting ad. It sounds amazing though.

    @Jessy – yup... welcome to sweden.

    @Hermione – indeed.

    @Anonymous – and now we know.

    @Fredrik – I’d like to reiterate what Robban said: “God, why did humans ever come here..?”

    @F – and the days are getting longer.

    @An American Girl – darkness tends to get mixed with alcohol.

    @m8 – Im here for you. Strangely enough, thats how I am. Content to be here despite my longings for home. Live football. And grossly oversized turkeys.

  17. Can you tell me where on the T this ad is? Because I'd like to bask in it.

  18. one over at gullmarsplan, although the one in the picture is right outside of kulturhuset on drottninggatan.

  19. Usch.. får sluta läsa din blogg. Blir bara så deprimerad och trött på Sverige att jag snart måste emigrera.

  20. This sounds familiar:

    Alogia, or poverty of speech, is the lessening of speech fluency and productivity, thought to reflect slowing or blocked thoughts, and often manifested as short, empty replies to questions.

    Affective flattening is the reduction in the range and intensity of emotional expression, including facial expression, voice tone, eye contact and is not able to interpret body language nor use appropriate body language.

    Avolition is the reduction, difficulty, or inability to initiate and persist in goal-directed behavior; it is often mistaken for apparent disinterest.

    A short summary of negative symptoms of Schizophrenia:
    - Lack of emotion - the inability to enjoy regular activities
    - Low energy - the person tends to sit around and sleep much more than normal
    lack of interest in life, low motivation

    - Affective flattening - a blank, blunted facial expression or less lively facial movements, flat voice (lack of normal intonations and variance) or physical movements.

    - Alogia (difficulty or inability to speak)
    Inappropriate social skills or lack of interest or ability to socialize with other people
    Inability to make friends or keep friends, or not caring to have friends
    - Social isolation - person spends most of the day alone or only with close family


    Interesting, maybe many Swedes are borderline schizo!


  21. @anonymous - just go stand in front of the billboard. Life will be good again!

    @anonymous - oh. wow.

  22. Clever advertising--and practical too! I can't imagine dealing with the nonstop winter darkness there, but at least the summers are lovely (or so I've read) :) -S.

  23. the summers are quite nice. I definitely suggest them. because while I love the ad campaign, it is just kind of sad that it works so well... light is good.

  24. I can recommend BlueLight for Android phones. It helps against winter blues and other forms of mood disorders.

  25. I didn't even have a smart phone way back then. But I do now! Didn't even think to check for apps that might help with this.

  26. An intriguing discussion is definitely worth comment. There's no doubt that that you ought to write more on this subject matter, it might not be a taboo matter but generally people don't speak about such issues. To the next! All the best and don't forget to check this list of light therapy lamps.