Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Seasons in flux

Sunday - beautiful. Monday - perfection. Now - dismality returns (+3C when at the same time yesterday evening it was +15C). To what extent are our moods - even for those of us who can claim to be emotionally stable - determined by the changing seasons? Well, I must say I had my mood gloriously lifted by the sunlight and warmth that's bringing nature back to life. Just as dwindling daylight lowers my spirits.

And so a thank-you to Ewa from Kraków (who runs Leopolis, supplier of fineft English cheeses) for sending me this link to a Guardian article about the emotional calendar. Oliver Burkeman writes about a new book on this subject by Harvard psychiatrist John Sharp. He argues that changing seasons lead to changes in one's emotional state:
These seasonal emotional shifts – the fillip from the first identifiably warm spring breeze, say, or the sinking feeling induced by shortening late-summer evenings – are such a fixture in our lives that they can become near-invisible. We're slow to attribute our feelings to them, and even psychologists haven't studied them much...
It's an idea I can instantly relate to. Despite modern life doing its best to iron out differences between midwinter and high summer, the constantly changing seasons have a profound effect on the way I feel within myself (that wonderfully useful Polish word samopoczucie) For example, trying to fast in the run-up to midwinter rather than doing in early spring would be terrifyingly difficult, especially giving up drink, a useful tonic when days are short and cold.

And as I noted last November and in January, the incidence of suicides increases when daylight is in short supply.

To cope with this effect, it's important simply to be aware of it and not to dismiss it as pseudoscientific hokum. Go with the flow, live with the seasons' ebb and flow.

This time last year:
Stunning late-winter beauty

This time two years ago:
Jeziorki Gumbo

This time three years ago:
Digging up Dawidowska

1 comment:

student SGH said...

More suicides when the supply of daylight is low.

Scientists also proved that during the midnight sun inhabitants of northern parts of Scandinavian countries, Greenland or Canada commit more suicides because they suffer from surfeit of daylight - they can't sleep what engenders frustration. I also long for some dark in June and July and totally understand them...