2018-04-12 / Front Page

Hey crab, there’s a reason you feel lousy

By Jen Murphy
of the Enterprise staff

Today is being affectionately referred to as “January 102nd” by those who are counting the days of what seems like an endless winter.

So if you feel crabby and withdrawn, there’s a reason.

The mental health of many folks is negatively affected by the weather, and some can even develop a condition known as “Seasonal Affective Disorder.”

A lack of sunshine is to blame, according to Eric LaPaugh, owner of True North Counseling.

LaPaugh explained that sunlight helps a body regulate functions such as the immune system, energy level and production of “feel-good” chemicals in the brain.

“A lack of light can reduce energy,” LaPaugh said. “Weather affects our irritability. You can sleep more, you can eat more. That negatively impacts self-esteem and our thoughts about what we look like.

“We also tend to withdraw socially. We have a lack of energy, so it’s harder for us to get out,” he said.

But every snow cloud has a silver lining, and there are some benefits to having an extended winter.

“Studies show that winter weather increases sexual activity,” LaPaugh said. He explained that there’s often an increase in the number of romantic movies rented, which may lead to snuggling on the couch. “People seek psychological and physical warmth, so there’s a lot of snuggling going on.” For good reason.

For the first ten days of April, average daily temperatures in Maple City were 13.7 degrees below average. And new snow for the same period hit 15.5 inches, well above the normal for early April of 2.3 inches, according to statics from the National Weather Service.

We’re just 4.5 inches from setting a new April record for snowfall, and the white stuff continues to cover parts of fields and the entire understory of forests.

This weekend promises nothing better. The forecast calls for continued lower-than-normal temps with highs in the mid-30’s, along with more “wintry mix” and snow.

Although we’re making no recommendations, there are ways other than to combat the “winter blues.”

LaPaugh recommends activity. “The best thing to do is get at least one hour of outdoor time or exercise each day,” he said. “This will increase energy, help you feel good about yourself and keep those extra calories under control. Also, make an effort to socialize.”

LaPaugh uses the approach with his clients. He often takes them outside, regardless of the weather.

“If I can get a patient outside for a walk and talk session I do it,” he said. “There’s an old saying, ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather - just poor clothing choices.’ You have to find joy in it somewhere or somehow.”

And prod, don’t push.

“I encourage them, I don’t force them. Maybe it’s just 30 minutes, but we walk and talk, get the fresh air and sunlight.”

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