The “grand stretch in the evening” is finally here

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There’s a stretch alright, but how grand is it?

As we dust off the cobwebs of early January, brighter days are coming – but when? After the Winter Solstice in December, the evenings gradually start to get longer, something Irish people have been calling “the stretch” for years. “There’s a grand auld stretch in the evening” is a phrase that might mystify anybody new to Ireland, but it’s a firm part of our vocabulary now.

As we progress through the month, the sunsets get longer and longer until we have those sweet summer days that don’t seem to end until 10pm or later. Brighter too are the mornings, making that pre-work alarm feel a little bit less aggressive. By the end of January, we can expect the sun to set at 17:06, almost an hour later than at the beginning of the month.

Thankfully, the eagerly awaited later sunsets are indeed creeping in, and there’s a Twitter account keeping us updated on how fast it’s coming.  The Grand Auld Stretch (@theauldsthretch) is giving regular updates about just how long it is.

Generally, the return of brighter days is accompanied by a lift in mood. For people with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), this can be even more true. According to the HSE, those with SAD can experience depression and anxiety in the autumn and winter. It can be incredibly debilitating and the darker days do little to help. Anybody struggling is encouraged to reach out for help, Aware operate a helpline seven days a week, from 10am to 10pm at 1800 80 48 48.

Many find comfort in the likes of a SAD lamp, which replicates daylight to trick your brain into thinking it isn’t quite as gloomy outside.

As we wait for the evenings to get brighter and the days to get longer, it’s important to remember that they will.  That grand stretch in the evening is only going to get grander!

Main image by Brett Jordan via Unsplash