How The Weather Can Affect Your Mood*


*This is a collaborative post*

This may come as no surprise to many of you, but weather patterns can actually affect our moods and emotions. Or at least that's what the research says. If you need convincing then perhaps take a look at the growing number of SAD cases that arise during the autumn and winter months. For several years, people have been diagnosed as suffering from seasonal affective disorder, while many experts also believe that cold or hot temperatures can drain our energy and tamper with our sleeping patterns, respectively.
In this post we’ll look at how different weather patterns can affect how we feel — and whether there’s any proof to back up the claims that climates can alter our moods and behaviour…

Rain


Some people think me crazy because I love the rain. I guess looking outside and seeing rain lashing against the window would rarely put most people in a good mood. Some experts believe that rain could actually negatively affect our social lives, leading us to feel isolated, frustrated and downbeat.
Dr. Alan Teo led a study of more than 11,000 adults and found that digital communication such as emails and phone calls offered little protection against participants developing depression over a two-year period, unlike face-to-face contact. The lowest rates of depression after a two year period were from those who met up with friends and family members three times every week. Only 6.5% developed the condition compared to those who met up just once a month. Many of us would be inclined to cancel plans to meet friends or family if it was down-pouring with rain and this can lead to a less fulfilled social life.
Also, getting drenched in heavy rainfall could lead to us feeling unwell, which may ultimately cause our moods to lower. Researchers at the University of Freiburg performed an experiment which found that a virus (similar to human flu) brought on signs of despair, lethargy and sadness. According to the researchers, this is because our bodies react to an infection by releasing a protein that doesn’t respond well with our hippocampus — a region of our brains that controls mood.
Rainy mornings are notorious for bad traffic conditions and a tougher commute. If you want to remain in high spirits and avoid letting the rain spoil your mood, make sure you stay as dry as possible and set off for work earlier to avoid delays that might cause anger and frustration.

Sunshine


As mentioned earlier, seasonal affective disorder otherwise known as SAD, is a type of depression that happens to sufferers at certain times of the year — most notably autumn and winter. A lowering of moods during winter has apparently been recorded as far back as 1845. Research, has shown that 6% of UK adults have the disorder, and that it can even affect children — although, the average age of SAD sufferers is 27 years.
Does this mean that sunshine equals happiness? It may be the case, if only we could bottle the stuff! Those studying SAD have found that the rate of vulnerability rises the further from the equator you live. Reports also show that sunshine boosts our moods by raising the level of the brain chemical called serotonin. This chemical is believed to regulate our mood, anxiety and social functioning which is why it's also used in many antidepressants. Less sunshine ultimately means a weaker production of serotonin.
It would also seem that sunny weather makes us get a better night’s sleep — and we all know how great an effect that can have on our moods the following day. The University of Rochester Sleep Laboratory in New York carried out research and discovered that good weather caused participants of the study to sleep more soundly. This could have something to do with the fact that being exposed to bright light during the day encourages our bodies to produce more melatonin — a hormone that acts as a detoxifier, rejuvenator and sleeping agent —when the sun sets. In fact, a Finnish study discovered that rodents that were given daily sun exposure produced a great deal more melatonin at night than those that received only artificial light. It would appear that natural sunlight and a good night’s sleep seem to go hand in hand.
Sunlight is a great source of vitamin D so it goes without saying, the less sunlight our bodies are exposed to, the less vitamin D we'll get. This particular vitamin is essential for good health and a subsequent happy mindset so it’s important to look for ways you can increase your exposure to sunshine. To help your body get plenty of sunlight, perhaps save up for a winter-sun holiday and when the weather is fine, spend as much time outdoors as you can. Don't forget your sun protection lotion!

Temperature


Temperature can also impact our feelings of happiness or sadness. During colder months, our bodies are forced to work harder simply to keep us warm, which includes raising our heart rates. As more of our energy is diverted to achieve this aim, we potentially end up feeling lethargic and less willing to participate in socialising and activities when it's cold. But why does this matter? Mental health organisation, Mind, states that getting exercise is a contributor to sound mental health, while another scientific study found that getting active holds ‘the promise of better mental health outcomes’.
Our immune systems are under more pressure during the colder seasons, and so, we are less capable of fending off illnesses. As mentioned earlier, illnesses such as a flu like virus can contribute to a low mood. If you suffer from a chronic condition such as back pain then you're more likely to have a flare up in winter due to the colder weather. Understandably this can lead to frustration. But what about when the weather is hot? Apparently, one UK study predicted that higher temperatures due to climate change will cause 9,000 fewer deaths in winter by 2050, while on another note, other US studies have shown that there may be a link between crime and rising heat levels!
Yes it would seem that hot and cold weather has an impact on how we feel and on our behaviour, but no matter the weather or temperature, try not to let it stop you from getting out and about.

As climate change progresses and with the prediction of further weather pattern changes, one can't help but wonder how weather will affect our psychology in the future? I guess time will tell.

This article was researched and created with the help of Fulton Umbrellas — an industry leader and premium supplier of clear umbrellas.

*Photos via Pexels; Header/Rain/Sunshine/Temperature.


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