Snow Rage – Does Our Environment Effect Our Mood?

Is snow rage real? Absolutely says this Psychotherapist. Not only is it real, I find as a mental health and wellness professional in private practice in Massachusetts, it is more common than one may think.

Below you will find 7 key points to help those who are struggling with understanding why some people react with rage during the snowy months. Certainly, there are more, these are just but a few. And, 3 tips to cope and thus navigate the rest of the snowy days ahead is also noted.

What is it about snowy days that leads some to experience: Snow Rage?

  1. Snowy days upon snowy days, not allowing the opportunity to catch up with one’s self /one’s responsibilities can be stressful. For an example, perhaps your work has piled up due to taking off from work because you needed to stay at home with your children since their school is closed. Perhaps your household chores have piled up due to spending one’s time shoveling instead of doing laundry, for an example, can be experienced as stressful. Some people when feeling stressed, the symptoms displayed in one’s interaction with and reaction to others are rage behaviors.
  2. Perhaps you are not taking care of your physical health as you typically do (e.g., not exercising at the gym). It is not uncommon for some to experience the desire to only drive where they “must go” (e.g., work). To drive any where else feels overwhelming, frustrating, or anxiety provoking for it is a hassle to deal with the driving experience due to the snow. The mounds of snow that block your usual vision, the slush that you have to step in and out of each time you get in and out of your car, etc., are just but a few examples of why a person may decide not to go to the gym. The mind and the body are interconnected. If your body is not feeling well, that indeed affects how you feel emotionally. Thus, one’s usual level of patience may be down a notch since one is not experiencing one’s best version of self physically and thus emotionally, thereby reacting to others with rage when something happens of frustration.
  3. Household aggravation can be experienced as upsetting and overwhelming (e.g., having a leak in one’s roof that is directly due to the snow, ice damage). It is not uncommon to project one’s inner emotions of upset outwardly as rage. Whether damage to the home becomes a financial problem, and/or whether a leak is leading one to not sleep through the night changing bucket after bucket to catch the wetness, whatever the example may be, one’s home is expected to be one’s safe haven of peace, and when it is not, that can indeed be experienced as a trigger for an emotional response.
  4. When one’s daily functioning is affected, when one’s daily typical routine is affected, some experience anger. Others experience symptoms of anxiety which may surface in one’s interaction with others as rage, as anger. Daily functioning examples ranging from; typically one takes a walk with one’s spouse after dinner to connect emotionally after a busy day ceases to exist – to – having to block out extra time in the morning to clear off one’s car therefore deciding there’s not enough time to eat breakfast – to – ….
  5. An emotional reactive response triggered by a sequence of events all related to snow, leads some to a boiling point. A beaker 1/4 the way full at 2pm can bubble over at 6pm. Sometimes humans are not unlike the beaker that bubbles over. For an example, a person who is typically punctual and punctuality is very important to them who now finds themselves late to an appointment work related, may remain calm at work, even though inside they are feeling quite anxious. On the ride home, rather than getting home at one’s usual time due to the snow affecting one’s drive time, now has one’s beaker to total bubble over. Thus, when another car zooms past and cuts this driver off, one’s pounding heart and head now react in a forceful beeping of the horn and screaming curse words in the car that only one’s self hears. Let’s take this scenario a step further with regards to triggering a person’s boiling point, which is in essence; snow rage, as follows. Imagine in this scenario this person really wanted to get home early to say goodnight to one’s child but now misses out because the roads are backed up, plus this same person is quite hungry due to skipping lunch from being backed up at work since it was closed the day before due to the snow and it’s well passed dinner time. Hm. What do you think happens when this person get’s home from work and the first words out of their mate’s mouth is: “can you take out the garbage”?
  6. Loss of control. Humans experience mood alteration when they do not feel in control. Large quantities of snow with consistency is out of our control. That in and of itself is not the problem, the problem is how the snow effects one’s environment, how the snow plays a significant part in preventing people from one’s day to day choices. Humans have a set of expectations each day about choices that one is going to make and actions one is going to take. When that choice is taken away, that loss of control affects one’s mood. Hence, why there are those who experience snow rage.
  7. Emotional suffocation. As much as many enjoy having personal time to relax in the home for those of whom are single, as much as many enjoy the experience of staying at home and relaxing with one’s family; for those who have families – it is not uncommon for staying at home to be experienced as suffocating. The amount of time a person stays in the home for many is increased with all of the snow, by contrast to their typical pattern of behavior out of the home. That in and of itself for some is experienced as uncomfortable, and suffocating.

Tips:

  1. Don’t create a long term problem due to a short term aggravation. Examples of what can be a long term problem due to your behavior, stemming from/triggers by the short term aggravation (snow) includes: do not be volatile to a neighbor for parking too close to your house due to the snow mound by his/her house, do not act out in rage reaction to your mate when feeling annoyed about a sequence of events snow related, also make the choice not to be short tempered at work with a colleague, or short fused with your children, etc). One’s rage reaction to people has the power to affect your mental wellness, the person you are interacting with, and the relationship whole.
  2. Control your controllables- make that choice. What’s out of your control? The snow, how the snow effects the roads, how the snow effects others behaviors, how the snow effects the environment around you, etc. What’s in your control? Your reaction to the snow and your reaction to the effects of the snow. So, make the choice to react to your experience of the snow and the effects of the snow in a healthy and productive manner.
  3. Don’t hibernate. Get out of the house. If it is unsafe to drive on a given day due to the snow, make it an active choice not to stay in the home void of fresh air, and void of physical movement. If your mate shovels, join him/her. If your children are not playing outside, get dressed in snow gear and invite them to come outside and play with you. If your children are playing outside, join them. If you live alone, don’t wait for the plow to come, to leave your house. Go for a walk to the end of your street and walk back- even just that body movement and fresh air helps the inner spirit to not feel like the snow owns you.

I invite you to check out an article posted on FOX 25 News Boston, which includes my interview and police commentary in response to the topic of: Snow Rage. 

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