Ken and I had this joke living in the UAE where we’d wake up and ask, “what will the weather be like today?” Then, same as always, we’d open the curtain and say, “oh look – there’s sun today!” When I first moved to the UAE, I couldn’t help but find it amazing that you could plan a beach day and KNOW that pretty much, save for the very few weeks of the year with rain and/or fog and/or sand storms, it was going to be predictable weather. Coming from Canada where many a beach day has been cancelled due to rain/hail/random weather changes, this was amazing to me!
Yes, the summer in the Middle East was challenging with 45+ heat and extreme humidity…but it was expected and it was predictable. And one thing was assured – there would always be sunshine! A typical day…
Perfectly beautiful with the ever-present sunshine…
Followed by the most beautiful sunsets. On our very last day in the UAE, I went with some friends to the beach; after doing a few last errands in Abu Dhabi, Ken joined me and we spent our afternoon at beautiful Yas Island Beach along the Arabian Gulf:
Though I’ve spent other times overseas for extended periods of time, this was the first time that I returned to Canada in winter! And the more you’re away (this was my longest time away from Canada by far), the more your body adjusts to your new climate.
I didn’t realize what a toll the lack of sunshine and ability to be free outdoors would take on my body. Because we left the very end of the UAE summer to enter the very start of Canadian winter, overnight we went from +35 to -5. It was HARD! It still is, though getting easier. Instead of my daily “uniform” consisting of a sundress and flip-flops, now I was bundling myself up and bracing for the elements…
on the left is me dressed for -24 weather; on the right is one of my very few runs before I chickened out and realized that I wouldn’t be an outdoor runner this winter
I didn’t realize just how hard it would be coming back to freezing temperatures and grey (and by grey, I mean that November made a record this winter for the most number of grey days in my area!)
The change impacted me not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally.
a bit of a contrast in temperatures and activities…
Looking back on the last five months, especially as the sun is poking its head out now and we’ve had a few days with above zero temperatures, here is what I’ve learned…
How to Cope with Changing Climates:
- Recognize that a change in climate does impact you physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s okay to feel off.
- Anytime you see that sun…get outside! Take advantage of the ability to get some Vitamin D when you can.
- Try to exercise and eat well. It’s hard, especially if you’re coming into cold as I was and you just want to curl up. I always feel better on days I exercise (though it’s a lot easier to stay in your warm bed!!!)
- Remember to dress for the elements. It sounds silly, but it’s easy to forget to wear the extra layers (or vice versa if you’re going to a hotter climate to bring lighter clothing). Make sure you’re prepared.
- Do something that makes you smile every day. Maybe it’s reading a great book or taking up a new hobby.
- Don’t keep looking at pictures of what you’re missing. In some ways, the easy access to our photo albums on smart phones is now a bit of a curse. Looking at pictures of the glorious Abu Dhabi beach while it was -25 and grey outside did nothing for my positive mental state. Things improved when I “banned” my phone.
- Be honest with yourself and others. It’s okay to admit you’re struggling. It is REAL!!!!
If you’re going through something similar, I wish you all the best in your adaptation! Feel free to share in the comments any strategies you’ve found that worked for you!