As winter approaches, the days are getting shorter and colder; now that Daylight Savings Time is over, the sun is setting around 4:30 in the afternoon in some places. Doctors are already aware that these shorter, darker days can lead to seasonal depression, or seasonal affective disorder, causing insomnia, low energy, overeating, and social withdrawal. But it doesn’t have to be this way. On this episode of The Gratitude Diaries, Janice Kaplan tells us about a small town in Norway, and how they manage to maintain their happiness and well-being during the endless night of winter, to impart some wisdom about giving ourselves a more positive winter mindset so we, too, can enjoy winter instead of enduring it.
Stanford psychologist Kari Leibowitz spent a year in Tromsø, Norway, which is so close to the Arctic Circle that the sun doesn’t rise at all between November and January. She wanted to discover how the people there weren’t totally miserable during this incredibly cold and dark time, and she found that a major factor was their own mindset. Residents talked about looking forward to skiing and other outdoor activities, observing the awe-inspiring Northern Lights, and enjoying the warmth of cafes lit with candles. One woman dubbed the winter months “the blue time,” emphasizing the beautiful colors you could still see, instead of focusing on the darkness.
Janice’s own son has a pretty positive winter mindset, she tells us; he once went camping in a blizzard in the Adirondacks, building a shelter out of ice. When he came home, he told her, “There’s no bad weather, only bad clothes.” As long as we’ve got a healthy supply of down jackets and warm hats to ward off the cold, there’s no reason why we can’t enjoy winter just as much as our Norwegian counterparts. Bundle up and take brisk walks. Continue to socialize safely outdoors with friends and family. Say out loud what you look forward to or love about winter, even if it’s something small; hearing it can help reset your brain and give you the positive mindset you need to hold seasonal depression at bay. Listen to this episode for more tips to make this your best winter yet on The Gratitude Diaries.
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