The upside to winter

Posted on July 9, 2014

Winter is coming!" is the fearful catch-cry of TV series Game of Thrones. And historically, there's good reason to be afraid. In ancient communities, the months following the winter solstice were famine months. While starvation may not be something to fear in contemporary Australia, the season can have a profound effect on our well-being, influencing our mood, mental health, hormones, fertility, brain function and activity levels.

We're now in the depths of what demographers call "the season of death", meaning you are more likely to die in winter than in any other season. Death rates in Australia are higher by an average of 20 per cent in the months of June, July and August compared with the monthly average, according to McCrindle Research.

And winter darkness has a mental toll in the form of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as winter depression.

If this all sounds a little grim, take cheer from the following: your brain is sharper and more productive on those gloomy, cold days of winter. A study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found people had superior memory recall on cold, cloudy days compared to bright, sunny days. Likewise, a study by Harvard Business School found productivity to be higher on days when the weather is "bad", because people are less distracted by recreational possibilities outside work.

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Source material from Daily Life