The Psychology of Snow

During recent weeks in the UK, we have seen a lot of snow, with those places most severely affected even being cut off. Neither has this weather been confined to the north of the country. Devon has been one of the worst affected regions. By now, to be honest we have largely had enough of it. However, initially, and certainly when we are at a younger age, we tend to find a snowfall an exciting and happy occurrence. Why is this? We know it will bring its problems, after all. And why do we find it so difficult to cope with it when other countries live with snow a great deal of the time and seem to manage a lot better?

To be honest, as in the UK snow is not so common, when it does come it is not so expected as in other countries and we are not as prepared as we could be. This is becoming an increasingly contentious issue, as we do seem to be having more snow than in recent times and each occasion brings travel chaos and various other difficulties. Snow does cause a great deal of excitement, though, and is still a source of fun and beauty. Building snowmen, having snowball fights, getting the day off from work or school, seeing a whitened landscape, all can create an amount of happiness. It can feel as if there is a fresh new world out there, especially if you haven’t experienced it before of course.

However, snow can also have those aforementioned negative consequences, but not all of them are physical or logistic. It can lead, for example, to strong feelings of isolation among those who are unable to get out as a result. People living in rural locations, particularly older people and people with disabilities can find themselves stuck at home with little or no social support. A few months ago the UK introduced a Minister For Loneliness; it is a growing concern that there are those, particularly older people, who have little social interaction. Social interaction and support is very important and if we have a lack of it then it can negatively affect our mental health, particularly our sense of self-esteem. For someone already isolated and so affected, a fall of snow can make them feel even worse.

People may also become stressed when they are not able to do the things they want to do because of the conditions. Getting to school, getting to work, going out with friends, making an appointment or meeting – all these things can be disrupted. Snow can be a nice change to our routine, but it can also be a big negative. If a person is away from home, for example if they are in London at an event but they live in Manchester, they may be worried that they won’t get home and where they will be able to stay; what will it cost to stay in a hotel overnight, will there be a free room, what about their family and other commitments?

Whilst snow can be beautiful and mesmerising, it can also increase the stress and pressure placed upon us. It is not all bad, taking the time to sit and look at it covering everything in a white blanket can also make us feel better about the world around us. It seems the more we have, the more divisive it becomes. What do you think? Is snow a positive or negative thing? As we have discussed, the answer may well depend on where you live.

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