Have you noticed that you feel dull and lethargic on gloomy days, while a sunny day makes your mood brighter?
Literary experts might call it pathetic fallacy, a technique used to impose human emotions onto nature. A simple example would be how a happy scene in a story is usually linked to a beautiful spring or summer day and an episode of sorrow is attributed to a gloomy, possibly rainy day.
But this literary technique has a scientific backing, with various researchers studying the impact of weather conditions on our moods and behaviors.
How Weather Impacts Mood and Behavior
One aspect of weather that is often linked to better mood is sunshine, the brighter it is outside, the better most of us feel. Studies show that sunlight can often help improve mood, reduce fatigue and wipe out negative thoughts.
An interesting study even found that diners in Minnesota tipped better on sunny days and that stock returns were better when the weather was good.
There is a downside to sunshine too though because as the temperature rises it might increase aggression. An increase in temperature is often linked to a rise in the cases of road rage and heinous crimes.
Studies also show that higher humidity can make people irritable, while a fluctuation in atmospheric pressure may cause headaches and even increase the risk of suicide.
While these changes in mood and behavior are linked to moderate or high temperatures, lower temperatures and the rain also impact mood. With fall approaching, the days will soon be shorter, the sun will disappear earlier than before and temperatures will slowly drop. All these factors can have a negative impact on our moods.
People tend to be more lethargic in colder conditions and might also crave more carbohydrates during this time. This condition is backed by an appropriately named condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Said to impact people between late fall and early spring, SAD is caused due to an increase in the production of melatonin, the hormone that induces sleep. The reduced exposure to sunlight also decreases the production of serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for regulating mood and appetite among other aspects of our behavior.
Dealing With Seasonal Mood Changes
With different responses to high and low temperatures and additional weather features like the rain, it is important to understand what causes these responses and how to deal with them.
Here are some simple tips to deal with seasonal changes that impact our emotional health:
- Exposing the skin to any available sunlight during the winter can help increase the production of serotonin.
- Apart from helping people with SAD, an exposure to bright lights might have a positive effect even on those who are not impacted.
- Winter months can induce lethargy, so performing simple stretches first thing in the morning can induce circulation and warm up the body.
- Switching up your workout routine to incorporate gentler exercises like yoga can benefit joint health because the cold weather can increase joint stiffness and pain and reduce the ability to walk or run.
- Carbohydrates may increase the production of serotonin, hence, it is recommended to incorporate nutrient-rich starchy vegetables like parsnips and potatoes instead of pasta and bread for maximum benefits.
- Being outdoors for at least 30 minutes a day can improve mood, concentration, memory and productivity.
While many of these seasonal mood changes may be partially psychological, it may benefit to understand the causes and adjust our lifestyle accordingly to avoid extreme mood swings.
Bernstein, M. (2018, April 25). 6 Scientific Ways Weather Affects Your Mood. Retrieved from https://www.bustle.com/articles/113278-6-scientific-ways-weather-affects-your-mood-so-you-can-adapt-your-mind-and-body-through
Haslam, N. (2018, September 10). Here comes the sun: How the weather affects our mood. Retrieved from http://theconversation.com/here-comes-the-sun-how-the-weather-affects-our-mood-19183