Dreading a Gloomy Winter Lockdown? Maybe You Can Think Like a Norwegian

Winter is normally a season that increases feelings of sadness or depression, in countries were the sun hides all day, and cold dominates. This year, it can increase even more, with socially distance due to Covid-19 pandemic. But there is a different way of facing the next few months.

Kari Leibowitz is an American psychologist studying Norwegians’ attitudes towards their long sunless winter above the Arctic Circle. Residing in the Norwegian town of Tromsø, she observed how the people there tended to view the winter as a challenge, or even more often like an opportunity.

“There are many things to enjoy about the winter. I love the cosiness of the winter months. Winter brings many wonderful seasonal changes” and “Winter is boring. Winter is a limiting time of year. There are many things to dislike about winter”.

The answers to these questions were found to predict the mental well-being of the answerer over the following months, with many of Tromsø’s residents struggling to imagine why a person might not be excited for winter, while listing things like hiking, skiing, and curling up in front of a fire with a hot drink as things they were looking forward to.

According to the New Jersey-born health psychologist, a person’s reaction to winter is similar to a person’s reaction to waking up early — it’s something they’re just not born to do. “Most people don’t realize that their beliefs about winter are subjective,” Leibowitz tells the Guardian. “They feel like they’re just someone who hates the winter and there’s nothing they can do about it… But once you put it in people’s heads that mindsets exist, and that you have control over your mindset – I think that that’s tremendously powerful.”

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