The Psychology of Snow

It's official.  Nanaimo has been hit since January with a season called "winter" that many of us are having mixed feelings about.  Perhaps we have been too quick to post memes on social media mocking the rest of Canada with our typical 10 degree weather and little or no snow.  I have been interested in the responses to the cooler temperatures and snow as many clients and friends have very different opinions about winter.  I thought that it might be interesting to look a bit further into the psychology of snow.

Kids have an amazing understanding of snow - albeit for their own benefit.  My own children have clamored to the window each morning hoping for huge snowfall each night so that they could enjoy one more snow day from school.  Building snowmen, sledding with friends, having a snowball fight or trying to catch a snowflake on your tongue are timeless rituals in winter.  Children often view snow as an opportunity to play and be outside in the fresh air.  

Adults have a different approach to snow.  For some individuals, the very notion of snow can cause anxiety and result in difficulty sleeping.  It can disrupt our routines or prevent us from enjoying activities that are important to us (such as going to the gym or library).  Feeling unprepared can result in physical changes to our immune system as people find themselves battling a cold or flu when the weather changes or the temperature drops.  For others, feelings of isolation can occur when a person is unable to leave their home or cannot meet with friends and family.  This is especially pertinent to seniors who may be living alone in their homes.  Because of this, if you have a neighbour who is older, a snowfall can be a great opportunity to knock on their door and interact with them.  Offering to drive friends to and from work can reduce the stress for others who need to work but may not have a suitable vehicle or access to a bus route in the snow and ice. 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, snow can be one of the most exciting and happiest times for people.  Some individuals actually feel a "buzz" or energy when a snowstorm takes place.  Just ask someone who grew up in Saskatchewan about the snowfall this week and they will likely describe it in very different terms.  Because they are accustomed to a traditional winter season, many of their memories from their childhood create a feeling of joy and excitement.  These people are comfortable driving in the snow and see no valid reason for schools or businesses to be closed as winter in other provinces can last for several months, instead of several days or weeks.  Snow can be seen as a nice change to our routines, and often times parents get an opportunity to relive their childhood by enjoying walks or playing outside with their families.

Does snow impact real estate in Nanaimo? The simple answer is yes.  Typically, home buyers are often apt to cancel showings at the first sight of snow.  However, once we have had a sustained winter weather, buyers become more accustomed to and comfortable with the notion of viewing homes even in the snow.  Some psychologists suggest that snow can trigger feelings of positive feelings and anticipation to happy events such as Christmas.  It can also make us a big more hungry as the animal-side of our brain tells us to hibernate (which is why some of us are more tired during a snowfall).   However, when you consider that properties sell year-round in other parts of Canada that have a much longer and colder winter than ours, it would seem that we can adapt to it - and much more quickly than we would think.  Showing requests have picked up and buyers and sellers are realizing that real estate continues 12 months of the year in Nanaimo (whether we enjoy the snow or not).

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