A combination of COVID-19, flu, cold weather, shorter days, and time indoors is already making some Americans fear the winter season. Health experts also expressed concern about people’s mental well-being as opportunities to get socially involved remain limited. In August, a survey by the Centers for Disease Control found that 41 percent of those polled had had mental health problems due to the pandemic.
However, the prospect of a long and isolating winter is not without precedent. In Tromsø, Norway, residents are practically without sun from mid-November to mid-January. And they might have the key to tackling the season.
Write for The guardDavid Robson recently introduced to Kari Leibowitz, a psychologist who visited Tromsø to better understand why, despite the harsh weather and lack of sunlight, its citizens are by and large pretty happy people. Leibowitz discovered that the people of Tromsø don̵
Leibowitz found that her assessment of a “lockdown” was not at all depressed. Instead of applying negative thoughts to it, they looked at all things that would bring them comfort. Using a “mindset scale”, the respondents who said they enjoyed certain aspects of winter, the cozy time indoors and seasonal changes were pleasant. Those who found the winter boring or restrictive tended to be unhappy.
Anecdotally, Leibowitz also noted that the residents of Tromsø were genuinely delighted with the season’s opportunities, from skiing to resting under a blanket. Instead of feeling limited, they chose to appreciate what was possible.
“Most people don’t realize that their beliefs about winter are subjective,” said Leibowitz Köpfe, that ways of thinking exist and that you are in control of your way of thinking … I think that’s enormously powerful. “
For some people, such as people with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), changing attitudes is not that easy. But for others, shifting your thinking from a cold and dark season to one that is full of potential could be a way to find the warmth in winter.
[h/t The Guardian]