The winter of 2010 has been particularly rough or impressive depending on your frame of reference. Having spent 10 years in Tucson, Arizona and now living in the eastern part of the United States, I am on the side of “rough.” For millions of people all across the planet, the winter of 2010 has caused school closings, car accidents, loss of power, plenty of exercise with shoveling, water damage, and eventual flooding. The chronic nature of the 2010 winter season has also caused our mood to sour.
Chronic stress can certainly cause changes in the brain. Research indicates this can occur in the form of structural and chemical change. Post-traumatic stress disorder is one type of psychological disorder caused by a life-threatening stressor though reduced efficiency and functionality can also be caused by an unrelenting stressor in our lives. One aspect of the chemical alteration in our brains is a change in our moods. This might mean a clinical disorder such as depression or seasonal affective disorder or a more mild change such as increased irritability, fatigue, frustration, and a sense of hopelessness. Mother Nature is in charge!
It is important to recognize your own situation and how you and your loved ones may be coping with such a difficult winter. For those of us who are not “winter people” this can be a difficult challenge. Some coping mechanisms to consider include:
1. Remember spring is getting closer each day.
2. Use the down time to engage in family activities.
3. Get some work done organizing or cleaning the house.
4. Try to recreate in the snow as a family.
5. Shovel the snow as a family (if you are physically able shoveling is a good exercise, but remember to bend your knees and proceed in small steps).
6. Build a fire if you have a fireplace and enjoy the moment.
7. Use relaxation and meditation daily to cope.
8. Be conscious of how you are feeling.
9. Talk to your doctor about light therapy if needed.
10. Spring is getting closer each day.
Bundle up and we will get through this together.