Mentally weathering the weather

Mentally weathering the weather

By Erin Grace February 25, 2013 1:30 pm 22 comments
Before I oh-so scientifically studied Omaha’s weather wimpiness, I went to an actual scientist.
A psychiatrist and Omaha native.
Who better to probe the dark corners of our soul than Dr. Steve Wengel from UNMC?
Here’s what the good doctor had to say about our weather worries.
* Running to Baker’s for bread and beer. This is our survivalist instinct at its most basic level. The late American psychologist Abraham Maslow said you had to have shelter, food, etc., before you could, say, go out and conquer the world. Wengel’s take? “We kind of took Maslow’s hierarchy and translated it to more wants rather than pure needs.”
* Our fascination with weather. Wengel took the ever-popular blame-the-media approach. “It’s hard to ignore this stuff,” he said about the TV scroll, the interruptions, the online postings. “We feed on it.”
* The roller coaster effect. It’s 50 degrees one day, 50 below the next. So we’re not used to it like we were in 2009 when it conveniently blizzarded thrice – that’s right – during my ninth month of pregnancy while we were trying to sell our house. I could have used a little roller-coaster effect that year.
* We like winter, we really do! The prospect of being snowbound can bring some comfort – that is if you’re warm and well-provisioned. Events get cancelled. Families get time together. “It forces us to reexamine our priorities, at least for a short time,” Wengel says.
But what to do if you’re not a winter wimp, but a winter grump? Wengel has two bits of advice. Exercise. And go outside. “Daylight helps,” he said. “The more sunlight you can get, the better.”

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