How Norway Can Help Us Survive the Upcoming COVID-19 Winter

A man walking along a snow covered trail.

During the winter, the body is primed to store some energy. Moderate cold-resistant exercise helps increase stamina and energy. (Image: TanteTati via Pixabay)

Winter will be hitting the United States in a couple of months. Some experts are apprehensive that the colder temperatures might trigger a rise in COVID-19 cases. People are likely to be restricted indoors for a longer period of time due to the faster spread of COVID-19. Thankfully, we have Norway to show us how we can potentially get through a COVID-19 winter. Being a country that goes through harsh winters, Norwegians apparently have a mindset that allows them to not only cope with the season, but even to find it enjoyable.

The Norwegian way

In most countries that experience winter, it has been observed that the season makes people lethargic and dampens their mood. This condition has been called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and is said to have a strong biological reason. During winter, the levels of mood-regulating neurotransmitters go down when compared to the summer season due to which people are likely to become depressed.

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In fact, people who have more neurotic personalities are said to be more susceptible to low moods in winter. Doctors often recommend psychotherapies and antidepressant drugs to people to deal with this problem.

Sad woman under a blanket with a gingerbread house in the foreground.
During winter, the levels of mood-regulating neurotransmitters go down making it more likely for people to become depressed. (Image: Screenshot via YouTube)

Since the winter season is near and COVID-19 infections could soar to all-time highs, most people will lock themselves indoors, either by choice or due to tighter lockdown restrictions placed by the states. The resulting isolation and loneliness might trigger a serious mental health crisis in communities.

And this is where Norway’s easygoing attitude comes in. Health psychologist Kari Leibowitz recently conducted research in the Norwegian town of Tromsø that reveals how a Norwegian mindset can be helpful in dealing with the winter season.

Tromsø receives only two or three hours of indirect sunlight on some days. However, several studies found that the inhabitants of the town are not affected by the wintertime depression that is normally seen in other places. One study discovered only a slight disturbance in sleep, but stressed that no mental distress was observed.

Leibowitz’s study looked at how positively or negatively people viewed the winter season. She discovered that those who saw winter as exciting had better mental health and life satisfaction than those who viewed the season negatively. People at higher altitudes displayed greater positivity than those at lower altitudes.

Interestingly, Leibowitz discovered that her own negative attitude to winter was changing to a positive one since she was living among people who saw winter in a positive manner.

“Most people don’t realize that their beliefs about winter are subjective… 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,” Leibowitz said to The Guardian. She believes that people should adopt a positive wintertime mindset to get through the pandemic winter lockdown.

A girl standing next to a Christmas tree in the snow holding lights.
Adopting a positive wintertime mindset can help you get through any pandemic winter lockdown. (Image: Screenshot via YouTube)

American winter and COVID-19

In the U.S., cases of COVID-19 infection initially hit a peak in July. At present, the number of infections per day just broke through 80,000, which is higher than in July. This number is slowly rising as more people are disregarding safety protocols like wearing masks and social distancing. People are also increasingly getting out of their homes and visiting restaurants and other places.

The winter season is due to hit the U.S. in December. And many believe that the number of infections could rise significantly if people do not strictly observe safety protocols. COVID-19 modeling groups are suggesting that over 170,000 additional people could die by February 1. The winter season in the U.S. is expected to end by March 20, 2021. At present, the death toll in the country stands at over 231,000.

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