MANNO: Sunshine the biggest thing absent from winter

Manno2WEBFolks, I’ve got the winter blues. It’s the first time, really. I’m used to bundling up, being pelted with brown snow, peeling skin off my lips – all the fun winter activities.

But it isn’t really the freezing rain and sleet that’s getting to me, per se. It’s more a problem of negation: the lack of sunshine.

Sunshine is the universal symbol for happiness, a cornerstone of cartoons and a line in many a Beatles song: “I need to laugh, and when the sun is out, I’ve got something I can laugh about.” There’s nothing else on earth that would inspire me to write something that snappy and joyful, except maybe a nice cheese pizza.

The sunshine really does give you that bright feeling, whether it’s the bit you can squeeze out in the winter or running through the streets during summer months. It’s cause for the happiest times on the outside (off topic: how can summer 2012 be the best when you already said summer 2007 was the best? A little consistency, man).

But when it’s not there, the day seems to stick a vacuum hose into my feelings to suck the joy right out. It’s a real problem – and a global one.

Scotland, Finland and all those other curmudgeonous lands in northern Europe have it especially bad, sometimes making ends meet with fewer than seven hours of daytime. One study I found from the Health Research Forum Occasional Reports – clearly self-employed people, judging by their name – talks about all kinds of diseases that stem from northern Scotland’s lack of sunshine and its resulting Vitamin D deficiency. Heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, several cancers, bone fractures, crying a lot – you name it, and the study has linked it to sunlight deficiency.

Poor Scots. Maybe the most glaring problem was a severe increase in the rates of depression and muscle weakness – things I usually feel on a cloudy day but never seriously linked to the lack of sunlight. It’s really strange. I’ve always thought mood was dictated by events, not chemicals, by the guys who cut in line at the sandwich shop rather than vitamin D and endorphins. But I guess it’s a little of both.

Ah, the ever-interesting bridge between physical triggers and mental well-being. This is exactly why a robot takeover is much more likely than a zombie one: We can manufacture these chemical processes, and soon enough …

But that’s for another column. For now, just make sure to get a little sun as winter passes through and enjoy what few bits seep through the clouds. And when given the choice of Hawaiian Punch or Sunny D, always go with Sunny D.

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