As a largely helpful summer ebbs away and the darker and chillier days of autumn loom large, many of us across the northern hemisphere will be dreading what it is then to follow, in the form of a potentially long, hard winter. But should we be filled with fear and anxiety as some of the ‘looser talk’ would have us believe, or should and could we be more hopeful and aspiring in the months to come?
Well, it’s obvious to say the COVID-19 has preoccupied our minds and many of our movements throughout much of 2020 and it will almost certainly still be alive and kicking throughout 2021, vaccine or not. That sounds pretty ominous but it’s also likely to be true.
In a strange kind of way, COVID has held us prisoner much like the most hazardous weather sometimes does, only for much longer. But to the contrary, for many, the fine spring and summer weather served as the greatest and safest ‘breakout’, opportunity – the ability to be able to throw away the viral shackles and enjoy what Mother Nature kindly provided in the way of copious sunshine and coveted warmth.
So, and it’ perfectly fair to say from that one very important example, that when it comes to our health and well-being, the weather we experience and more importantly how we react to it, is absolutely key to how we might get through the impending winter.
For ‘we’ please read YOU, because what I am about to say is uniquely personal, and because all of our circumstances are all different, you will be the best person to react to any advice I may give and every different circumstance you might encounter.
Let’s start at the very basic beginning
We are all made of the same stuff as every element of weather that is out there. We share many of the same chemicals that go to make up COVID-19 and for that matter every virus and bacterium that ever existed. In short, we are astronomically and biologically linked with COVID, plagues, cancer, colds, coughs, sneezes and every other type of disease. Astronomically? Well and unless you believe to the country, it all started at the ‘Big Bang’, and everything that exists today following billions of years of evolution was part of and due to that one event.
The problems however arise because most of the unsavory ‘exotics’ that have since come about are largely dependent upon mankind and other life forms in order for them to live long and prosper. Their one purpose is to hitch a comfortable and helpful ride and multiply their own species. Sadly, in some cases and certainly in the case of COVID-19, the multiplication affects have proven to be deadly. But for good or ill, how does our daily weather and long-term climate figure in all of this?
In my new book, ‘Weather or Not? – The Personal and Commercial Impacts of Weather and Climate, I talk about the ongoing relationship we all have with the weather and our longer-term climate. Both focusing upon the personal impacts of weather and climate, as well as the commercial side of things, but and as we have seen during COVID times, the commercial and economic impacts can be just as devastating if the wrong actions are taken. US, UK and Brazil take a bow.
But from that personal perspective, it might all start when we awaken and draw back the curtains or blinds and take our first peak at what awaits us outside. There can be exceptions to the rules, but for the most part our initial mood is normally guided by what we are seeing outside and it’s not by accident that certain weather-types will help to lift our spirits or on the other hand completely dampen them.
How our mood is influenced by the weather
Back in early prehistoric times when our genes were adapting to whatever conditions lay in wait, weather and longer-term climate were paramount for survival. Whether for hunting wildlife or gathering fruit, vegetables and the like, ‘onside’ weather and longer-term climate meant a meal could be had. But weather or climates that were hostile or impossible meant an empty table and empty stomachs, which in some cases did lead to wipeouts. Now, I’m not saying a grey day with rain is necessarily a negative, because rain is of course a vital part of the survival equation, but there is a time and a place for every type of weather and climate and too much or too little of one side of the equation can rightly be called a negative, even in today’s pacey modern world.
So, imprinted within all our genes and probably our bones too, are the feel good and feel bad factors of weather. Rule of thumb then; sunshine, sky-blue skies, warm temperatures with some occasional rain make us feel a damn sight better inside than endless dull, drab skies with pouring rain and temperatures hovering around zero. Putting it another way, positive productive things more easily happen with the former weather-type, whilst the latter tends to usher in negativity and sluggishness. I guess the same could be said about lively light evenings and mornings versus dark foreboding ones, which connect well to the world’s various climates and our subject in hand, the forthcoming winter.
You see, much of what we have come to love or hate about our weather really is in the mind – or indeed imprinted within our genes. In these dizzy social media times we now live in, weather is often taken for granted, flippantly talked about at the bus stop, or even used as a convenient reason for our performance, output, mood or behaviour. And maybe some of the impacts of weather or climate are entirely justifiable; but in my book some are not and are more of an excuse or an absence aforethought.
The potential negative impact of a winter lockdown on our mental health
Our mental health has become a major talking point over the past few years and certainly during COVID lockdowns. And I would put to you that ‘negative’ weather can drill down into our brains and eat away at any positivity we may have tucked away there. In the worst of cases, it may then result in some serious consequences if not remedied, with depression and suicidal tendencies being driven to the fore.
And when the weather chooses to growl and bite, then it can do that in many other ways that impose themselves on our health and wellbeing. There are countless diseases that are weather or climate driven and many more that are supported by Mother Nature’s harsher hand, perhaps the most obvious being the common cold.
If these numerous and unwelcome negatives don’t come and knock on your door, then other dangers-to-life might. Weather in all forms – be it heatwaves, freezes, storms, floods, blizzards or less obvious weather inspired perils might. All have the capacity to injure or cause death by way of accidents or incidents, whether or not we have our wits about us.
Winter is indeed the peak season when bleak weather incidents of all kinds reach their peak. But it need not be so; we can’t of course stop the worst of the weather’s impacts and increasing COVID cases may be part and parcel of that. But we can prepare better and plan, we can limit the damage, we can change our mindset, we can change our movements and the way we live our lives. We can do all that if we learn lessons and plan proactively. I say as much and provide ideas and solutions for a better and safer life throughout my book, if you would care to partake.
Winter is indeed coming. However, it is not fictional White Walkers that we have to fear. This is real life and real life’s ugly weather woes are walking relentlessly towards us. But we can do better, much better! Come and find out how.