Snow therapy: is it real?

Snow has a calming effect on the human soul: while watching a snowfall, we inevitably and unconsciously realise that we are filled with grace and calm. And why is that?

Snowflakes falling from the sky and gently settling on the ground stimulate human emotions and inspire the sense of wonder in all of us. What’s more, this phenomenon triggers a cognitive process that evokes emotions and memories of childhood, making us feel happy, while the deepest substrata of ourselves bring out from the past the innocent enchantment we experienced as children.

Snow is also associated with fun and the playful aspect of life. It reconciles us with nature and often gives us the almost genetic impression of belonging to an ecosystem, while we are amazed by the beauty of a white landscape; this is also due to its physical property of muffling and absorbing sounds.

At a more behavioural and social level, snowfalls have the power to influence our plans and choices: their arrival implies changes in our daily routine, from the inconvenience caused to transportation and mobility, to the need, in some cases, to clean up our own driveway. The passing of time takes on aesthetic shapes: snow, from its initial whiteness, becomes dirty, melts and disappears.

These small alterations in the days lead us to think differently about how the world works and refresh our way of seeing and thinking about things.

Can we therefore attribute a therapeutic power to snow?

Not scientifically, but empirically, it is difficult to say otherwise. And if the term ‘therapy’ may seem excessive for those small white crystals, it is not so for mountains, the place where snow falls mostly: several studies and medical experts speak of mountain therapy. Already in the Italian literature of the 14th century (think of Petrarch), a climb to the summit was described with a symbolic meaning, associated with going through a cathartic process towards purity. It is no coincidence that lots of pilgrimages or spiritual paths are located on mountain slopes.

Today, several doctors suggest an Alpine getaway to overcome difficulties such as stress or pollution and to stimulate energy production in the body, as well as psychic recovery.

So, while the ski lifts remain closed, let’s take advantage of the silence of the snow-covered mountains to rebalance and feel good, perhaps with winter hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing or ski mountaineering: look at things from a different perspective, as we did as children staring at the window, when we woke up to admire the snowflakes.