This Winter has been nothing short of brutal. Colder-than-usual temperatures across the nation, numerous heavy snowstorms and just-plain-miserable winter weather has descended on us in November, and has barely let go since.
Most of the Northern states have been hovering at or below freezing for weeks. Snowstorms have pummeled New England, the Mid-Atlantic and especially the Midwest. Even tropical South Florida, the typical object of envy for most of the country in the winter months, dipped to a bone-chilling 39°F a couple of weeks ago! For flip-flop and short-wearing local Floridians, that may as well be -39°F.
In addition to the obvious health hazards of winter weather: cold temperatures, compromised immune systems from jumping between freezing and warm and dry indoor temperatures, icy roads, heavy snow and the strenuous physical activity needed to be exerted to clear it, wintertime also has some pretty bizarre psychological effects on some of us.
Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a recognized, albeit uncommon, medical condition that affects how sufferers behave during winter versus summer months. Those afflicted with SAD tend to experience significant mood changes, specifically decreased happiness, ambition and social desire, in the cold months. Although SAD is relatively rare, slight changes in seasonal mood can also be observed in many people who are not diagnosed with SAD.
Bottom line is, wintertime seems to effect the mood of a lot of different people. Causes of these strange seasonal mood changes can stem from a number of factors:
We are very much affected by warmth and UV rays from the Sun, both physically and psychologically. The farther North you live, the less sun you get in the winter, both because of the Sun’s angle throughout the day, and because of the short daylight and long nights.
Cold temperatures prevent us from enjoying the same outdoor activities we typically enjoy in warmer months. Being outside, running, hiking, playing sports and being social outdoors is something we take for granted in warm weather, but do miss in the winter.
Aside from tropical climates where the Summer months actually see more rain and inclement weather, most climates throughout the United States experience much more cloudy, dark days in the Winter, robbing us of the little sunlight we do get.
To battle the wintertime blues, try to transition most of the same routines you did in the summer. If you ran, exercised or played sports in the Summer, substitute the outdoors with a local gym, and continue your workout routine. Substitute your outdoor special activities with local events, get-togethers or parties. Keep in touch with your friends, and don’t let cold weather discourage you from having a good time! While you can’t control sunlight and the weather, these are a few factors you can!