Benefits To Having A Harsh Winter

Western New Yorkers have been through a lot this winter. They've been snowed in, frozen out, and probably spent way too much quality time with their shovels. Time Warner Cable News Reporter Sarah Blazonis tells us why some researchers say there may actually be a bright side.

HAMBURG, N.Y.-- Snow isn't exactly an unusual sight during Western New York winters, but that's been different this year.

"Pretty much putting snow everywhere possible,” said Dan Tomaka, a Hamburg resident.  “In our front lawn, we just have mountains."

And everyone knows you're going to have to bundle up.  February 2015 is poised to break the record to become coldest month in Buffalo's recorded temperature history ever.

"Usually, I really like the cold,” said Chelsey Mittner, another Hamburg resident.  “But it's pretty cold this winter."

"For some people who suffer damage from, you know, their roof collapsing, or really being stranded for days at a time, this really doesn't differ that much from a tornado coming through town” said UB Associate Professor Mark Seery.

Mark Seery is an associate professor of psychology at UB.  He said there may actually be an upside to this relentless winter.

Some of his research involved looking at how people's negative experiences, like a severe winter, relate to their overall well being.  Past data showed more hardships led to being worse off mentally and physically.  But Seery found that wasn't a hard and fast rule.

"There's a happy medium there where having dealt with some difficult life circumstances seems to leave people better prepared to deal with subsequent stressful things," said Seery.

Seery says it's all in how you look at things.  Instead of focusing on what you can't control, like the weather, instead look at things you can, like how you spend your time.

"They're actually potentially approaching it consistent in a way that, 'I see more opportunity for control in this situation,'" said Seery. “And just having the perception of having some control available, previous research has shown, has a lot of benefits for coping."

Who knows? You may end up like the Level family, who have embraced winter.

"We came up here, me and my two daughters, for the actual cold," said Matthew Level, of Illinois.

That resilience might not be apparent until sometime in the future.  So, just like the end of winter, you'll have to be patient, and wait it out.

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