Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Winter Blahs?

       There is debate on whether the condition "Seasonal Affective Disorder" exists but I'm a believer. I tend to get it around the holidays and it seems to peak in February and taper off in April. I'm not even sure how much of it has to do with lack of natural light and how much of it has to do with other things such as being trapped indoors due to cold and bad roads, the higher chance of being sick, the lack of fresh air from being indoors too much, or even the lack of greenery. As for hours of daylight we do have an advantage in the USA. The Northern states here are roughly at the same latitude as much of southern Europe. It does tend to be unusually cloudy in the Winter at least here in the Northeast. The average winter here tends to have about 4' of total snow on average with highs in the low 30's and lows in the upper teens (F). That's colder than most developed areas in Europe since they have the Gulf Stream's help out there. Even the major East Coast cities in the US average more snow than London, Paris, or Dublin. On the other hand there are developed and thriving places who have it far worse: parts of Canada and North Asia. I do believe in the importance of getting as much natural light as possible in Winter and if the weather permits, getting outside as much as possible during the day. Although I'm not a morning person I'm sure getting up early may increase our exposure to natural light. I'm not sure what to think of the artificial light therapies. All I can say is for what they cost be sure to do some independent research first. My general rule for trying anything new is to look online for at least 3 independent, un-biased sources and if they all sound promising, try it. Also I've heard people from colder climates say that in the Winter, they make the best of it and don't wish it away. I guess in other words, don't "hibernate". It's easier said than done for me since I'm still not a cold-weather person.
       Another thing to helps me is to read about parts of the world where the winters are worse, especially developed places where people seem to be thriving. The Canadian prairies are one such place as are parts of Siberia. I know both places have oil and have been developing fast. It may help though that some of these places although frigid have ample sun and less snow than others, but it's still winter. You could always look up the climate averages of each place and compare them to yours, this can help us feel just a little warmer. Here's Novosibirsk, Siberia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novosibirsk

Here's beautiful Calgary, Canada-average January low 5F: (you may have to move the screen back and forth to get the full panoramas)
Photo by: Dawn Szmurlo
Edmonton, Canada: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmonton

Astana- not the Kazakhstan falsely portrayed in "Borat" and I can't find many public use photos to do it's skyline justice. The average January low here is -8F. I know I have a hard time thinking of places in the vast Islamic realm as having a cold climate but Kazakhstan has on of the coldest national capitols in the world:
File:Central Downtown Astana 2.jpg
Photo by Kenneth Fairfax

Then there's Japan which is about as long as the East Coast of North America and varies in climate. While the ocean moderates the temperature to a point there are parts that have more snow than the North American Great Lakes region and far more snow than much of Northern Europe. Sapporo, Japan may be the snowiest major city in the world depending on how one defines "major city":
Sapporo, Japan (Wikimedia Commons)

And there is the heavily populated Northeast China with huge cities like Harbin, Jixi, and Shenyang. While there is some snow here that may take a while to melt there is very little compared to other places because the winters are bone dry. Still an average January high and low of 23F and 3F is pretty cold and yet it seems to thrive:
File:Southern part of shenyang city.jpg
Southern Shenyang (Wikimedia Commons)

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