Lack of sun: an unmentioned term of my contract

Being born and raised in a country like Greece, sun is part of your everyday life from the time that you wake up until the sunset. What can be better than a warm or cold coffee next to the sea during a sunny day? Everything seemed and are different in the eye of sun. I would say that you are able to see the world in a more optimistic aspect. However, the importance of the sun in our lives is not always obvious. How many times have you failed to appreciate what you had until it was gone? This is also what happened to me when I decided to leave Greece and moved to north Europe for a PhD.

Santorini (Greece) in a midday sun... (www.pixabay.com)

Santorini (Greece) in a midday sun… (www.pixabay.com)

Many studies have shown that north Europe and countries like Belgium have a relatively low average of hours of sunshine a year. As a PhD candidate at KU Leuven in Belgium, I was impressed when I read an article about the cloudiest European cities and that Belgium’s Royal Meteorological Institute has declared December 2017 “the second darkest month since 1887”. Of course, it is not only Belgium but also other countries that sun seems to be something rare.

But how can sun affect you and your life? Actually, sun is the one of the significant reasons that life exists on earth. It has hidden benefits that can help with yours daily activities. In one domain that sun is part of food energy. Plants convert sunlight to food energy through photosynthesis. It is by plants that animals are fed and then the humans that feed on the animals. This is how sun help the life chain on earth. Furthermore, the light of the sun provides us Vitamin D as it is absorbed via our skin and transformed into a state that the body can use. We need only a few minutes of sunlight per day to acquire the minimum dose. Last but not least, many studies have shown that depression occurs in people during the change of seasons. Winter days become shorter as a result less and less sunlight is available for us. People being depressed during winter was linked to the lack of sun.

When moving to a sunnier locale is not an option, there are different ways to cope the lack of sun. From my personal experience, I would suggest you to go out for at least one hour a day or even longer on grey days. Practicing outdoor sports in the daylight may also help. Get rid of heavy curtains and bring more light into your home. Make at least one room in our home the bright room to which you can retreat on a dark winter’s day. Turn into a hunter chasing the sun. When the sun come out, then jogging and go for a walk no matter how cold it is.

So these are some facts that I didn’t consider before signing my contract one year before, did you?

About The Author

ESR 12, Christina Siakati grew up in a beautiful small village, called Emporio, situated near Kozani in north Greece. There, she spent all my school years, till she went to university to become a physicist. Now, she is doing her PhD at the Materials Engineering department of KU Leuven in Belgium on “Iron-rich inorganic polymers derived from residual matrices”, deepening the knowledge of the structure and formation mechanism of Fe-rich inorganic polymers, following experimental and computational approaches.

You can always get in contact with her at: christina.siakati@kuleuven.be

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