How to think like a Norwegian
How are you doing? I am very sorry for the hiatus
Although we are still in Autumn, the change in weather and darker evenings have sent me into a bit of a panic. I usually struggle with the lack of sunlight and anyone who knows me will have noticed that I become a bit of a recluse in the colder months, but this year I am making a vow to free myself from the chokehold of Seasonal Affective Disorder.
A piece of research looking at the residents of the Norwegian city Tromsø, where the sun does not rise at all from November to January, found that their mental health wasn’t significantly affected by the different seasons of the year.
So how come the good people of Tromsø are able to stay stable during the Polar Nights but a slight chill in the morning can dampen my mood? The research suggests that mindset is one of the most powerful predictors of our ability to cope with events, showing that people who are able to shift their thinking to appreciate the benefits that come with the wintertime end up with higher levels of life satisfaction and overall mental health over the period.
The study used the following “Wintertime Mindset Scale” to accurately predict wellbeing in Tromsø. I thought it could be interesting to also ask you to rate how much you agree or disagree with these statements:
Winter is an especially beautiful time of year
I enjoy doing many things I only do during the winter
I love the cosiness of the winter months
There are many things to enjoy about the winter
I like the soft light we have during the winter months
Winter is my favourite season
I dislike the winter time
I find the winter months dark and depressing
I am much more tired during the winter
In the winter, I often don't feel like doing anything at all
Wintertime Mindset Scale: Kari Leibowitz, Stanford University
What came up for you? Anything interesting?
Although our ability to frame situations as an opportunity as opposed to a challenge can help us to succeed in various contexts, I think it is too simplistic to attribute Seasonal Affective Disorder or low mood/anxiety to mindset alone. Our uncertain political environment and fears surrounding the energy crisis will of course effect our ability to see the colder months as “cosy”. In addition, our experiences from childhood and earlier in life profoundly shape our perception of what the period represents. How we feel is not always straight-forward, but perhaps with a bit of investigating we can understand what is contributing to our emotions.
With all this in mind, I hope you are taking it easy and engaging in the things that allow you to feel good as we approach the fourth quarter of the year.
Thanks so much for reading, I really appreciate it
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I recently gave a talk to staff at the science recruitment consultancy HRS to mark World Suicide Prevention Day, you can read more about it on their LinkedIn post.