Shuffle your way to class through the bitter -5 degree Fahrenheit weather, the wind striking every visible part of your body. Winter in upstate New York bites, even the Alaskan natives keep their heads down and shoulders hunched. It’s no longer a matter of pride but self-preservation where every inch of skin is covered as much as possible. The feeling of comradery and laughter so often heard in the summer and even fall has disappeared. There is one goal: get to class, get warm, and get out of the blasted cold.
Winter blues is sometimes considered a joke, a silly little child’s song to be laughed at and pushed aside. Yet there is some scientific basis for the phenomena. The cold weather brings less and less social interactions as people stay inside their own homes. Communal living may combat it slightly, but even then an air of sullen coldness hangs over the community. With the disappearance of laughter is the disappearance of smiling, or perhaps the other way around. No more smiles, no more laughter, just a household of people trying to get through the day. Yet maybe this is the root cause of the blanket of depression settling over so many people’s shoulders during the winter time. Maybe all it takes is a smile to make the day feel joyous once again. As quoted by Dr. Parker, “Smile to someone you don’t know… it may make their day.”
Smiling has a positive effect on yourself as well as the people around you. Everyone can pick out that one weird student smiling on their way to class, indoors of course otherwise a scarf would be hiding his or her mouth. The first thought is usually, what are they so happy about? Its cold out, I’m miserable, why is this one person so happy all the sudden? Maybe these smilers have learned to be happy for the little things, the fact they are out of the wind or that there is heat and light in the building. Even with these winter blues thoughts swirling around in your head, have you ever been able to resist contemplating smiling back? Smiling is contagious. I have fallen prey to my smiling friends more than once. It lifts your spirits by forcing you to think of something to feel joyous about, and the spirits of those around you.
Smiling is known to self-medicate and heal. The simple act of smiling has hormonal and physiological consequences which invoke the desire to smile more in a cycle of improving your mentality. In small groups, we tend to mirror each other’s facial expressions and smiling provides one of the strongest incentives. It is more common for people to mimic a smile than tears. Your single smile could spread for miles throughout campus, cutting through the winter blues with a simple contortion of facial muscles. Instead of: when will winter end, ask yourself: what do I have to smile about today?