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The Physical Link Between Warmth and Romance

This year’s winter feels endless. Studies have long shown that the cold and lack of sunshine can have a real effect on a person’s health, as well as their mental state. For example, even a minor decrease in vitamin D can result in general aches and pains. The constant darkness can also cause depression, which, this time of year, is more commonly known as the winter blues.

A recent study in the Journal of Consumer Research has revealed that the frigid season also influences people’s taste in entertainment, which explains why movie theaters are often jam packed with action and epic films during the summer, and romance and comedies from December through March. This is because when consumers feel cold, their preferences shift.

“We often think of love as being warm,” explain authors Jiewen Hong and Yacheng Sun. “This link between love and warmth appears in everyday language, songs and poems.”

Their statement is undeniable. Picture a romantic scene- what comes to mind? A cozy fireplace, a sunny beach, candlelight… Some may picture a walk in the snow, but what are the lovers doing? Huddling together, appreciating the warmth they find in each other in contrast to their chilly surroundings.

Is There a Real Connection?

The authors conducted their study in order to discover whether the connection between love and warmth is merely a metaphor, or if there is in fact a physical connection between the two.

In their research, Hong and Sun included four lab studies and a detailed analysis of an online movie rental company. They predicted that romantic films are more desirable when they are dealing with physical cold, because the chill triggers a need for balance through psychological warmth.

In one of the tests, the researchers sat participants in rooms with various temperatures and gave them a choice of films to watch. The colder participants all leaned towards romance or comedy, both feel-good genres. The authors were interested to discover that once they pointed out the coldness to participants, they no longer preferred romance. This reveals a subconscious link.

To prove that the findings are indeed relevant beyond the confines of a lab, the study analyzed movie rental data from a DVD rental company, matching it to the coinciding weather and outdoor temperature. People were indeed more inclined to rent romance movies during colder periods.

So next time you’re feeling cold and a little down, why not follow the trend and curl up with a blanket, a hot cup of tea and a cozy, feel-good romantic flick?

 

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Seasonal Affective Disorder and The Benefits of Darkness

The clocks have gone back and winter has begun, and one in fifteen people will be affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. Though the early darkness and gloomy mornings can be depressing, there are actually several health benefits to the increased darkness exposure.

Unnatural reliance on artificial lighting both at home and in the office can have negative effects on a person’s health, both physically and mentally. Sleep consultant Dr. Neil Stanley has found that all living things have an instinctive need for daily darkness.

Melatonin and Cancer

In fact, scientists have actually found connections between night-time light and breast cancer. Melatonin, the “darkness hormone,” is one of our body’s natural defenses against cancer. Produced by the pineal gland, melatonin is released in response to darkness. A powerful antioxidant, melatonin is believed to suppress the growth of several types of cancerous cells, including breast and prostate cancer. Not only does lighting reduce melatonin production, it also weakens the immune system and disturbs the biological clock, messing with the body’s most healthy and natural balance. Of course, the reduced sun exposure also lessens the risk of skin cancer.

Take Advantage

While the dark can be depressing, it is important to utilize it and restore strength for next summer. Instead of turning all the lights up and forcing your body to stay up as late as it does during the summer months, why not take advantage of the early nights and catch up on the hundreds of hours of sleep you’re probably missing. And if you’re inclined to leave some lights on while you relax, you may want to consider dim ones, or even candles, for a healthy and relaxing evening.

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Avoiding Winter Depression Part II

As mentioned in the previous article, the dark, cramped feeling of winter can certainly fuel depression. Here are some more ways to avoid SAD (seasonal affective disorder):

  • Keep warm! Being cold can add to the energy-less feeling. It is hard to start a day correctly when the temperature is so low, so make sure to dress warmly and comfortably. If you feel comfortable, you will be able to stay focused during work.
  • Stay healthy. I mentioned exercise earlier, but there’s a part two to that as well. A healthy diet will keep you feeling energized and alert, and will probably ward off illnesses like the flu. Make sure to eat fruits and vegetables, as well as lots of protein.
  • If you’re still feeling bored or blue, try a new hobby. The challenge and learning experience will help you stay more alert and motivated in everything you do throughout the course of the day.
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Avoiding Winter Depression Part I

Winter depression is a common issue during this season. The lack of sunlight and outdoor activity result in a feeling of laziness and fatigue, and if the feeling is left stagnant it often turns into mild or even severe depression. It is important to keep your mind and body busy in order to prevent this seasonal affective disorder.

One way to do so is to keep active. If the weather allows it, go for an hour-long walk. If it doesn’t, try jumping rope or running on a treadmill for a while, at least every other day. The physical activity will release endorphins into the body, which are “happy” hormones that will immediately boost your mood. The activity will also keep your body more fit, and fight fatigue.

Another key factor is daylight. Again, if the weather allows it, make sure to go outside at least once a day. Sit on the porch, go for a walk; do something that exposes you to the outdoor air and natural light.

Surround yourself with friends and family. Technology allows for many different work schedules, and many people now work from their homes with internet-based companies. If this is your case, make sure to get dressed every day, instead of lounging around the house in your pajamas. You also need to maintain some human exposure in order to pop the bubble that you’ve created. Invite friends over for a fancy dinner or movie night, and make sure to stay social despite the frigid conditions outside.

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