Snowstorms, like the one set to slam the Northeast this weekend, and their aftermath can be stressful not only on our backs, but on our minds.
The broadcasted build-up often causes people to flood the supermarkets in search of bread, eggs, milk and toilet paper. The pile-ups keep people trapped inside their homes, not to mention finding a parking space after digging your car out is an Herculean task at times.
“It sure has been stressful, and stress has a loss a control and unpredictability,” Joe Tecce, a Professor of Psychology at Boston College, told Metro. “When we are immobilized, it heightens our sense of stress. Then there is the unpredictable elements: ‘When is the next one coming? How many more will there be?’ These are things that add to the tension.”
But Tecce said that while storms cause mental angst, it doesn’t take much to alleviate the tension.
“Immobilization is a major source of stress, when you can’t move or can’t get their easily, the muscles get much more tense,” Tecce said. “Cabin fever is very real, and getting out of the four walls is a major relief.”
Tecce suggests relatively simple methods of keeping your cool in the face of blizzards and their aftermath.
Simple communication between neighbors, friends and family can change the course of one’s anguish as snow paralyzes the area.
“Just being able to commiserate with people helps because you get the sense that you’re not alone in this struggle,” Tecce said.
Compassion is another means of obtaining a sense of calm under pressure, he said.
“If you go shovel with your neighbor, go share a laugh with someone waiting for the bus or the T, encourage one another that winter is finite and we’re all in this together, you share a sense of community,” Tecce said.”Being able to control a compliment or boost someone else’s spirits means that you have hope within yourself and have the ability to share it.”
Setting obtainable goals is also paramount in maintaining a level head.
“Fight back against depression, because snow is finite,” Tecce said. “See that there is a pot of gold at the end of the white-evil rainbow. It will melt. Do not be inactive. Move around, kick the snow, curse it, and go home and get warm. Don’t give up total control. Don’t give up your routine. Keep continuity going. Don’t become lethargic.”
Last winter, Boston saw a record-breaking amount of snow, and the last of the mountainous snow farms hung around until July 14.