It’s almost here: Winter Storm Jonas is touching down this weekend, dumping snow from Washington, D.C., to New York, according to the latest forecasts. And with the panic of snow comes an epidemic of blizzard brain, which makes otherwise normal, commonsense people do odd things.
People are hoarding the inclement-weather trifecta: milk, bread, and eggs. Just how much French toast can a person eat?! Already, many grocery stores look bizarrely empty: coolers devoid of dairy and eggs, shelves that normally hold loaves looking forlorn. Psychologists point to mob mentality for this instinct to rush out and buy groceries, even if your fridge is stocked: If everyone’s doing it, I should, too, right? The empty shelves and snaking lines only exacerbate this impulse. Don’t blame yourself too much, though: It’s a primal, survival instinct to hoard resources when we sense danger or a future where these valuable resources might run thin.
Some are desperate for a cuddle buddy. Or, as Craigslisters have called them, “blizzard buddies.” There is nothing more romantic than being stuck indoors with someone, having hot chocolate, watching movies, and snuggling, right? Experts say the impulse to be with someone — even a stranger — is the same one people have come New Year’s Eve or at a wedding. And just like hoarding, blame loneliness in extreme weather on your survival instincts. “We hate being alone in situations where it seems as if everyone else is enjoying the company of their significant others,” Paul Brunson, a professional matchmaker, told the Washington Post. Also: Someone has to help you eat all those groceries.
And others are driving themselves nuts with “anticipatory anxiety.” The blizzard hasn’t even made landfall yet and people are reporting what some experts have dubbed “anticipatory anxiety” when recalling previous experiences of dread, trudging through slush, and being generally miserable in the cold. Bostonians, for instance, dealt with a very rough 2015 winter and were already gloomy in October when the first chilly winds swept through. The amygdala is thought to play a role in this sort of fear response, recording “any fear or emotionally significant experience” and then helpfully reminding you to be freaked out later, as Dr. Ericka Bohnel told the Boston Globe. Bohnel suggests gently turning your focus on the potential good things the storm will bring, like snow angels and Netflix marathons and that serene sense of calm that happens to a city when it’s blanketed in snow.