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How to Enjoy the Positive Side of Earlier Sunsets

Darkness doesn’t have to be a state of mind as we “fall back” into the shorter days of autumn.

Shorter days by the fire
Credit: Getty Images

This summer, my family loved watching movies with friends on a screen in the backyard. It was COVID-safe for our unvaccinated 10-year-old and just plain fun for everybody. But at the height of summer, Movie Night couldn’t even start until almost 9:00 because of those long, luxurious summer evenings—a little late for the younger crowd.

By our Labor Day movie, we relished the fact that we got to start quite a bit earlier, as the sunset began its gradual turn toward winter hours. 

But cinematic silver linings aside, many people start to feel blue when the days get shorter—not to mention the “fall back” moment when we change our clocks for Daylight Savings Time on November 7 this year.

Shorter days and earlier sunsets can be an emotional, metaphorical season of the year. It can feel like we’re turning away from warmth and freedom, toward cold and quiet. In the pandemic era, cold weather means fewer outdoor gatherings, which can prompt feelings of loneliness and just being “stuck.”

Darkness doesn’t have to be a state of mind, though. With authentic positivity, we can acknowledge that there are some challenges we’d prefer not to have to face, but we can find ways to show up with grace and hope, even as the sun sets.

Celebrate Cozy
Just because the sun is down doesn’t mean your whole world needs to be dark. The crisp evenings of fall are the perfect time to set up a new arrangement of indoor candles, lay a fire in the fireplace or simply curl up under a reading light, wrapped in a deliciously soft blanket. Making our own light can be an emotionally resonant response to the darkness outside.

Get More Sleep
There’s a positive aspect of the earlier sunsets at this time of year—the daily rhythm can help us shift our sleep-wake cycles so we get to bed earlier for a healthy night of rest. We’re not talking about full-on hibernation here, but leaning gently into the seasonal sleepiness that comes with shorter days can help us adjust toward a goal of getting 7-9 hours of restorative sleep each night.

Where do you find the light in our shorter days?

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