Subscribe
The Monitor's View

Give winter a big hug

Tromsø, Norway, 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle, may provide lessons on how to enjoy cold and snow.

  • close
    People wearing special sunglasses wait to view a total solar eclipse in March 2015 on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard in the Arctic Ocean.
    Haakon Mosvold Larsen/NTB scanpix/Reuters/File
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption
of

The world’s Northern Hemisphere has plunged into the dark heart of winter – the year’s shortest days and coldest temperatures.

In the Northeastern United States many wonder if last year’s “Snowmageddon” that buried the region in the white stuff will appear again. Some hope that this year’s El Niño phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean will send warmer winds to spare them winter’s bitter blast.

But recent research in Norway suggests a time-honored approach to enjoying the season: Don’t dread winter; embrace it.

Recently a Stanford University researcher reported on her time in Tromsø, Norway, more than 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle, where she studied the effects of winter on mental health. Not only is Tromsø bitterly cold, it’s dark: For two months the sun doesn’t rise above the horizon.

Her findings surprised her: When asked about winter depression, many people there didn’t know what she was talking about. Most were looking forward to the season.

“Norwegians have a saying that ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing,’ which typifies their ingrained belief that being active is part of a happy life – and, especially, a happy winter,” writes Kari Leibowitz, a PhD candidate in psychology.

She wondered if the insights of Alia Crum, a Stanford psychology professor, might be evident in Tromsø. Dr. Crum’s research has shown that the “mind-set” or attitude people hold toward a stressful situation makes a huge difference in whether it causes mental or even physical problems, or actually enhances their mood and abilities.

While Ms. Leibowitz acknowledges more research is necessary, she says the Norwegians she observed didn’t necessarily even depend on getting outside or basking in a certain amount of daylight. They liked being indoors, too.

“Norwegians embrace the idea of koselig, or ‘coziness,’ ” Leibowitz writes, “that making the conscious effort to light candles and fires, drink warm beverages, and snuggle under blankets can be enjoyable and relaxing.”

To those in other cold climes, with their boots, scarves, and snow shovels standing ready, those are comforting words.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
FREE Newsletters
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK