It’s not your imagination – the weather does affect how you feel. It can be a bummer to wake up to a blustery, gloomy day where you need to trek out into the elements and face the challenges of life. Blazing sun and a warm breeze with the promise of beach yoga and a picnic make me so happy I could burst. Rainy days often bring headaches, sadness and bad moods. Everyone is different, but one thing’s for certain: our moods change like (and with) the weather. Here are some of the major factors involved.
While some studies have indicated that we are more productive on cloudy days, moods are generally low. When you wake and need to grab an umbrella, odds are you’ll feel prone to sadness, melancholy, and perhaps spend some time dwelling on the past. Rainy days also tend to cause fatigue, overeating and (subsequently) unwanted weight gain. Seasonal Affective Disorder is also very common during the fall and winter month, as SAD is a seasonal form of depression that is directly linked to long stints of cloudy, cold weather.
A study conducted in 2008 by Jaap Denissen in Berlin confirmed it. People show more depression-like symptoms on cloudy and rainy days. There’s also something referred to as a “Barometric Pressure Headache” which happens on days with lower barometric pressure conditions. According to the New York Times, differences in air pressure due to weather and changes in altitude affect the human body. Some of us are more sensitive than others, but it’s good to be aware. Listening to your local weather forecast may tell you more than how to dress tomorrow; it may be a heads up to grab some ibuprofen and hydrate to prepare.
Seasonal Allergies Mess With Our Moods
Allergies disrupt our lives with all of that coughing, sneezing, wheezing and sleep deprivation. Red, itchy eyes and raw skin from blowing your nose non-stop can turn anyone into a cranky, Kleenex-hoarding mess. Wind spreads pollen and worsens allergies, while outdoor activities expose you to ragweed and other aggravating factors. The result? You head home, hit the meds, get on the couch, and flood social media with your allergy woes. I mean, who doesn’t love a good allergy-induced pity party?
Most over the counter and prescription allergy medications cause drowsiness, irritability or even excitability. Messing with your normal, balanced state, the mood changes that allergies bring are rarely for the better. It’s normal to feel grumpy and depressed from being cooped up to avoid seasonal allergy irritants, particularly if you’re normally an outdoor-loving person.
Warmer Weather = Happier People
This may be a no-brainer, but it’s a fact—people living in warmer climates are happier, overall. Long, sunny days and increased outdoor activity keep moods cheery and light. Self-reported happiness correlates directly with sunnier days; simply spending more time outside lowers stress levels and boosts moods. Think about the old expression “sunny disposition” and you’ll likely conjure images of palm trees, drinks served in coconuts, and people parasailing.
While we can’t all up and relocate someplace tropical right this moment, getting plenty of natural daylight delivers an instant mood boost—no matter where you live. Try to get outside for at least twenty minutes a day to keep your spirits up. My Ayurvedic physician insists that even in cold months, walking outdoors in direct sunlight is a must.
How Can I Feel Better?
If you try using a Neti pot on a daily basis, your allergy symptoms will be less severe; I’m living proof. When my seasonal allergies peaked a few years ago, I added a Neti pot to my morning ritual and my breathing improved instantly. I stepped up my yoga practice, increased my lung capacity and boom! Allergies sucked a lot less joy out of my life. My mood became brighter as I got a handle on my seasonal allergies.
What about those long, grey days? Winter does indeed have the tendency to prompt more negative feelings, so it’s important to find balance. Joining a gym, increasing your cardio or signing up for group fitness, yoga or dance classes will all ensure a regimen of both physical and social activity. Try not to let the weather dictate your mood, and be prepared to handle whatever challenges it does throw your way.