Written by: Cally Worden
Do you feel invigorated in a rainstorm? Refreshingly breathless in strong winds? Light of heart in the summer sun? The effect the weather can have on our moods is quite astonishing, but not everyone responds to the same conditions in the same way, and the feelings experienced can be unexpected. Learning to recognise how prevailing conditions tickle your own mood sensors can help you weather the, erm weather. To help you out, read on to discover a few surprising things that research has discovered in this area.
Sun Is Not Always Fun
My friend is a sun-worshipper and will happily spend endless ecstatic hours sprawled on a sun lounger. Me, I get hot and grumpy just setting it up, and can think of nothing less appealing. The heat makes me snappy. The kid avoid me as soon as the sun appears. It’s not good. I always thought I was just weird – after all, people flock to sunnier climes all year round in a bid to escape the grey hat that the UK wears for much of the time. But it seems I’m not alone.
Several independent sets of research have discovered that mood levels increase with the annual dawn of Spring, and then decline in the heat of Summer. Depression sets in as temperatures rise, and this pall of gloom can last well into the Autumn. Levels of aggression are also known to rise in the heat, so if you feel urge to smack someone it may be time to retreat indoors, or book a mini-break to Iceland and chill-out.
A 1980s study revealed that humidity is one of the most powerful aspects of weather in respect of its influence on our moods. It induces sleepiness, and a lack of concentration. Not to mention physical discomfort. The body is a responsive animal, and its atavistic instinct to rest in clammy and muggy conditions triggers lethargy when humidity is high – it sucks the energy right out of you. If you’re looking for an excuse for relaxing and giving in to some leisurely daytime naps, then head for the tropics, and keep your activity aspirations low.
No Rhyme or Reason
It seems that each individual has their own very distinct reactions to the weather. Dutch scientists in 2011 released a study that suggested people fall into broad categories that reflect their response to weather conditions – there are, apparently, ‘Sun Haters’ and ‘Rain Haters’, with a whole bunch of people falling in the middle range of ‘Unaffected’. This could explain why some people seem to suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), where others remain untouched by its influence.
Does Any of this Help?
I guess it’s all about self-awareness. I know I’m going to be like a bear with a sore head on a hot day and, mindful of this, I try to stay in the shade as much as possible, and bite my lip when I’m feeling snappy. It can also help to observe the responses of those around you, and try to remember that your son/daughter/husband/wife/boss seems a bit tetchy when it rains, and avoid tackling delicate issues until the rain clouds clear.