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Coldest Day of the Year



Key words and phrases:

hemisphere: a half of the earth, usually as divided into northern and southern halves by the equator

run like clockwork: go on a precise schedule, go as planned

climatize: to adjust to the local climate

accompany: go together with

serotonin: a hormone that is responsible for stabilizing our moods, and increases feelings of well-being and happiness.

melatonin: a hormone that regulates our sleep cycle as well as our immune system

conducive to: leading to

in a rut: in an established habit, especially a boring one

in a groove: performing well, moving with rhythm



We have just gone through what is generally considered to be the coldest time of the year in the northern hemisphere. Throughout Asia, January 21st is known to be the coldest day of the year; in Japan it is known as Daikan, 大寒 or “Big Cold.” And, in Japan, as most things run like clockwork, January 21st was indeed one of the coldest days so far this year.


Coming from Canada, I am familiar with cold weather. However, after having been in Japan for 30 years I have definitely climatized to local temperatures. Yes, that’s right, I did say 30 years. January marked my 30th anniversary in Japan. I arrived at Narita on a January afternoon. When I stepped out of the airport the temperature was displayed overhead; it was 6℃. Since it was -19℃ when I left Canada, it felt like spring had come early.


I know many people don’t particularly like winter, but let’s look at some of the positives that come with it. In Tokyo and surrounding areas, we must appreciate the sunshine and the blue skies that accompany it, no matter what the temperature is. Why? First, sunlight strengthens our immune system and can help fight off depression. Exposure to sunlight increases the brain's release of a hormone called serotonin, a hormone that is responsible for stabilizing our moods, and increases feelings of well-being and happiness. Furthermore, serotonin facilitates the production of melatonin, a hormone that is produced in the brain after darkness. Melatonin is necessary for regulating our sleep cycle as well as our immune system. In short, exposure to sunlight will improve your sleep and that will build overall health and happiness.


Many people in the world have been given the opportunity to work from home over the past two years. This has been conducive to having more flexible schedules and doing things that were difficult to do when working from the office, like taking a walk during the day. Remember that taking a break in the day and getting some sunshine is good for our mental and physical health and can help you get out of a rut and into a groove. Let me end with a quote by Helen Keller related to sunlight and mental health. "Keep your face to the sun and you will never see the shadows."


Wishing you health and happiness always.


Mark Tofflemire

Tailor Made Inc.




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