The first and most well known way in which weather affects mood is in what is known as 'seasonal affective disorder' – abbreviated rather appropriately to 'SAD'. This condition can also be known as 'winter depression', 'winter blues' or 'seasonal depression' and basically it describes a condition in which the individual finds their mood so tied to the changing of the seasons that they in fact exhibit symptoms close to depression every winter. This condition is recognized in the 'DSM-IV' – the 'Diagnostics and Statistical Manual' used by psychologists where it is described as a 'specifier of major depression'.
There are countless different ways in which the weather affects mood then and this includes direct effects on mood and hormones, as well as more subtle second order impacts. Make sure that you stay warm and dry and that you make up for lower energy in your diet. But at the same time there's always the option of flying south for the winter – and if you're really struggling with the weather then why not consider booking your Holiday in winter this year?
Although most people in the country wouldn’t agree, we in Southern California have been having extreme weather conditions for us: rain and mudslides. You could almost say we’re so used to mild conditions that we become afraid of what others would call “real” weather—weather wimps. Being afraid, ashamed of, or embarrassed by your feelings is like being afraid of the weather, because emotions (tears, panic attacks, angry outbursts, withdrawal, depression, elation, lust, romantic excitement, euphoria) are the weather conditions of the inner self. View results for: Symptoms Treatment Medications Ani Kalayjian, Ed.D., R.N., professor of psychology at Fordham University in New York, advises that we "can and should take proactive steps to strengthen the [brain's] system" against weather-driven mood changes.
"We encourage people to take charge of their feelings," says Dr. Kalayjian. Her self-help recommendations for SAD sufferers are applicable to anyone who wants to put a little sunshine in his or her step.
"Do things that make you feel good, like listening to uplifting music or reading a good novel. Look at pictures from a vacation—and if you can, take a vacation to a warm place." All of the tried-and-true methods of mood improvement and stress management apply as well, including getting regular exercise, moderating alcohol intake and meditating.
"Feelings are transient; we can change them, transform them into positive," concludes Dr. Kalayjian. You may not be able to will the sun to break through overcast skies, but you can empower yourself to break through an emotional cloud.
Scientific research from numerous studies indicates there is a strong link between weather and human emotions. John Grohol of the website Psych Central points out that this conclusion is not universally supported by researchers, although the overwhelming body of evidence establishes a link between the two phenomena. Findings indicate that different weather patterns can act as either mood elevators or depressants to the human psyche.
Temperature and Humidity
John Grohol of Psych Central reports that temperature and humidity both play an important role in mood. He points to a 1984 study by E. Howarth and M.S. Hoffman measuring temperature, humidity, sunlight and mood. Their 11-day study of 24 college students found that higher temperatures lowered skepticism and anxiety. On the other hand, higher humidity dampened concentration and induced sleepiness. Grohol supports the latter findings with another study from 1982 by J.L. Sanders and M.S. Brizzolara. They concluded that higher humidity lowered mood traits such as vigor and affection.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
The rotating seasons bring predictable changes--notably, the winter months contain less sunlight and warmth. In some people, this causes annual mood shifts that are now known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. According to the Mayo Clinic, the symptoms of SAD usually begin in the fall and persist throughout winter, and include moodiness, depression and lack of energy.
Your smile lights up your face the way the sun lights our day. Smiles, too can come from behind clouds or after emotional storms. The smile signals that all is well, pressure is equalized and the coast is clear to be out and open and have some fun.
Like rain, tears can be stormy or just a light sprinkle, and feel angry, cold, dreary and sad, or even come through the sunshine. Rain often follows a change of weather pressure, and tears can be the result of release of inner tension. People frequently cry from relief that they've been heard or that they can see a solution where there appeared to be a problem. Those who suffer from a trauma or a loss normally cry a littleafter the first shock of finding out, as the awful pressure of the news is absorbed and the grief sets in.
Rain first carries with it the dust suspended in the air, and then washes everything clean as it continues. Emotional rain, too, can first be painful, and then begin to bring release and clarity. A “good cry” is one that really lets go of the held feelings and continues until relief sets in.
When you allow the tears to flow until your natural smile returns, you will feel hopeful again—hope is the rainbow of our internal climate. Like a rainbow, hope doesn't exist until there has been a disappointment, and the disappointment has been accepted completely enough to let the sun shine once more. That smile, coming thorough sadness, brings with it a renewed feeling of hope.
Sometimes reluctance to express unhappiness or discomfort builds pressure that eventually releases in a rush, like a storm. Violent storms shake things up, just as strong anger does. Anger that is allowed to get out of control is as destructive as a hurricane, but anger that is expressed in healthy ways can "clear the air" just as a storm does. The aftermath of a healthy, not too violent storm allows us to appreciate the pleasures of calmness.
Cloudiness and Fog
Emotionally, things are not always very clear. It’s normal to feel foggy and unsure, or depressed and dark from time to time. If you can remember it's just your emotional climate, and explore it to discover the cause, the fog will lift, the clouds will part, it may rain or storm a little, but the sun will eventually come out again. Normal depression that is not allowed to take its natural course, not opened up to let the fresh air in, can turn into emotional smog, or internal pollution.