Public event set to help Glaswegians see the light of solstice

As the longest day of the year approaches on June 20th, researchers at the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh are looking ahead to the mental and physical challenges that people in Scotland can face as light diminishes after the summer solstice.

Professor Hester Parr, of the University of Glasgow, and Professor Hayden Lorimer, of the University of Edinburgh, lead the Living with SAD research project, which explores how people experience seasonal affective disorder during the darker months of shorter days.

The project has worked with artist-poet Alec Finlay to produce a series of resources to help people living with SAD to understand their experiences and take action to tackle their low mood.

On Wednesday 12th June, the researchers are hosting a public workshop as part of the Glasgow Science Festiva l to discuss how lux - the measure of light - affects our mental health.

They will be joined by wellbeing expert and educator Professor Chris Williams, of Living Life to the Full, who will explain how evidence-led cognitive behavioural therapy has informed the light-facing resources the research team have developed.

Professor Hester Parr, of the University of Glasgow’s School of Geographical & Earth Sciences, said: "Exposure to natural light is one of the many factors which can affect our mental and physical wellbeing. As the days get shorter in the latter half of the year following the summer solstice, many people struggle with emotional challenges, lowered mood, and feelings of anxiety.

"The Royal College of Psychiatry estimates that about three percent of the population experience SAD, suggesting that more than a million adults in the UK live with those feelings during the winter months.

"Our event will anticipate the arrival of the summer solstice, but also highlight useful resources that people of Glasgow can use as the light gradually retreats after the longest day."

The Solstice occurs twice a year and are referred to as the ’summer solstice’ and ’winter solstice’. The summer solstice, which occurs around the 20/21 June in the Northern Hemisphere, is the day of the year with the longest period of daylight while the winter solstice, on or around the 21 December in the Northern Hemisphere, is the day with the shortest period of daylight.

When it is the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, the areas north of the Arctic circle receive sunlight for a full 24 hours, while areas south of the Antarctic circle have a full day of total darkness. This situation is reversed at the winter solstice.

Living with SAD is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

The ’How does Light Affect our Lives’’ event will take place at the University of Glasgow’s Advanced Research Centre, 11 Chapel Lane, between 6pm and 7:45pm pm Wednesday 12th June.

Click here to book tickets for the event.