'It's been a nightmare': Record snow weighing on sufferers of snow anxiety

Land of 10,000 Lakes? Lately, Minnesota is more like the Land of 10,000 Flakes. 

With a record February snowfall on the books, it’s likely you've experienced your fair share of snow fatigue. The ongoing snow, however, has been more unsettling for others. Laura Barnum of Oakdale says she suffers from snow anxiety. 

"The thought of driving in it especially when it’s coming down,” said Barnum. “Like if it snows overnight and I know it’s over then I'm fine. But if it’s like this and it's snowing all day, I'm in a panic. I can't get my work done ‘cause I'm worried about having to be out on the roads."

Whether it’s knowing you have to shovel or snowblow your driveway or sidewalk, changing or canceling travel plans or figuring out what to do with your kids when they are out of school for a snow day, round after round of snow can cause a little anxiety in anyone.

Dr. Cheryl Bemel with Allina Health says while people clinically diagnosed with a phobia of snow are rare, milder forms of anxiety caused by changes in the weather are more common.

"It really depends on someone's personal history,” said Dr. Bemel. “If someone has been caught in an accident or has been on their way to the airport and been ready to miss their flight that sets the tone for memory and then it may predispose us to have anxiety about the next time."

Dr. Bemel says the best way to treat snow anxiety is to do something fun in it, like sledding or cross country skiing to jog our memory that winter weather isn't always a source of stress.

"If we have fun in the snow, we are exercising that muscle in our minds to remind us of fun times we had in snow as children and doing things that we enjoy will lighten the mood," she said.

"Nobody in my family has it,” said Barnum. “They are like get over it, Laura, suck it up."

For the last couple of years, Barnum says her work allows her to stay home on days when there are big snowfalls to help alleviate her anxiety. Spending a snow day at home with her dog is the perfect way to calm her nerves.

"It’s been a nightmare,” she said. “I'm ready for spring."