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Winter and the Psyche

Thoughts

It is scientifically proven that cold temperatures can influence our thoughts and desires. It influences the way we feel, why we do things, and even our desire to watch romantic movies. Seasonal Affective Disorder is the most commonly known effect of cold weather and though people immediately recoil into the negative effects that come with this, not to worry there are positive things that come with the winter too. 

Let's start with the negatives of the season. Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, as started before, is probably one of the biggest negatives. Our brains are sensitive to cold weather and our brain responds to this by releasing chemicals that make us feel lower than usual. Appearing during late fall or early winter and should be taken as seriously as any other depression and mental illness as this can get worse and lead to more problems if not treated. If you are someone who struggles with SAD it is suggested that you talk to a doctor or therapist about medication and what you can do to help yourself feel better during these winter months. 

Daylight savings time ended on November 3, 2019. Which, on the positive side, means an extra hour of sleep however on the negative side, it gets dark around 4pm. Since daylight savings time has ended, you might have noticed that your sleep schedule has become rockey, well this might be the reason why. The lack of daylight is throwing off your internal clock leaving you tired and fatigued. Light has a big impact in timing our life, so with there being less light during the winter this messes with how and when things are being done. This can cause us to become tired earlier and become more awake later. It is recommended to purchase a light that mimics the full light spectrum and making sure you are taking your daily vitamins. With it becoming colder and making people more tired than usual, people want to eat more. Now this could be considered a positive or a negative depending on who you, however it is true that cold weather makes our bodies go into hibernation mode, our survival impulse triggered. So during the holiday season if you find yourself going back for seconds or planning that nap in the middle of the day, don’t feel guilty just blame the weather. 

Now let's move onto the positives. Studies have proven that your brain actually works better in the cold and that it’s good for your brain. According to an article written by Adrian Ward that was in the ​Scientific American, it takes more energy to cool down your body than warm up your body. Energy coming from glucose, and glucose also being an important factor for the brains mental process. During cold weather there is more glucose in the brain than there is during warm weather. And because of the cold weather the brains creativity level is higher, this means that during the winter months it’s the perfect time to start something new. You will be much more motivated to stay on track and pick things up easier. If you’re like me and you enjoy a grey sky surrounded by sparkling lights and a good read, lying on the couch and finally picking up that book you’ve been meaning to read for a year now may be your idea of a perfect time. Or maybe your idea of a perfect time is finally watching those romantic movies your friends have been recommending you for a year now. Ever wonder why the winter feels like the perfect time to watch them? Well there is a reason for that. When we feel physically cold we crave psychological warmth. If romance movies aren't for you this might not be how you find your psychological warmth, however researchers have proven that people rent more romantic movies in the winter time than they do in the summertime. When we think of romance, we think of warmth so it only makes sense we crave that in some way while its cold. So on a cold, snowy day in New York with nowhere to go and nothing to do, don’t feel bad cuddling up and watching one of your favorite cheesy romance movies or deciding now is the perfect time to finally pick up piano.

If you live in New York it’s inevitable that you will have to endure the cold months and even  though unfortunately the cons outweigh the pros and it can be hard to not see the good in the winter, spending time with friends and family watching a good romance movie and eating a nice meal can make the season warm. 

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Image by Cameron Schroeder


written by
Sydney Wildman
January 2, 2020