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Tuesday, December 12 2017 @ 03:19 AM AKST

Does Winter Actually Make Us Sad?

Health and WellnessDuring 2014–15, a psychologist from Stanford University called Kari Leibowitz spent ten months in Tromsø trying to figure out how people cope during the cold, dark winters. Together with Vittersø, she devised a ‘winter mindset questionnaire’ to assess people’s attitudes to winter in Tromsø, Svalbard and the Oslo area. The farther north they went, the more positive people’s mindsets towards winter were, she tells me. “In the south, people didn’t like winter nearly as much. But across the board, liking winter was associated with greater life satisfaction and being willing to undertake challenges that lead to greater personal growth.”

It sounds dismissively simple, but adopting a more positive attitude really might help to ward off the winter blues. Kelly Rohan recently published a clinical trial comparing cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to light therapy in the treatment of SAD, and found them comparable during the first year of treatment. CBT involves learning to identify patterns and errors in one’s way of thinking and challenging them. In the case of SAD, that could be rephrasing thoughts such as ‘I hate winter’ to ‘I prefer summer to winter’, or ‘I can’t do anything in winter’ to ‘It’s harder for me to do things in winter, but if I plan and put in effort I can’.

It also involves finding activities that a person is willing to do in winter, to pull them out of hibernation mode. “I don’t argue that there isn’t a strong physiological component to seasonal depression, which is tied to the light–dark cycle,” says Rohan. “But I do argue that the person has some control over how they respond to and cope with that. You can change your thinking and behaviour to feel a bit better at this time of year.” Article: http://digg.com/2017/does-darkness-make-you-sad

Big Lake Winter Day Photo by Dennis Garrett

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[Reposted-Ed]

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