Do you find that the weather can have a big impact on your mood? You're absolutely not alone and it's totally normal.
There is a lot of scientific proof that shows weather affects mood. In fact, researchers from Stanford University recently conducted an investigation into exactly how weather influences mood. They took to social media and performed sentiment analysis on posts from a long period of time, assessing the weather conditions that they were written in.
The research discovered that less ideal weather conditions led to a worsened sentiment. Unpleasant conditions, humidity, cloud cover, precipitation and more were found to have an impact on mood.
You might be left wondering, though, "why does weather affect my mood?". Let's take a closer look at why that's the case, the psychology underpinning the phenomenon, and how to stay positive in winter.
Why weather can affect our moods
There are a few theories as to why weather has such a dramatic impact on our mood and - by extension - the way that we behave.
Some experts believe that the weather impacts us on a physiological level, while others believe it has a psychological and social impact.
Let's begin by looking at how weather impacts us on a physiological level. The weather affects our body, which subsequently has an impact on our mood. Here's how the three key weather features impact us physiologically:
Exposure to sunlight causes our body to produce vitamin D, which promotes the production of serotonin. This serotonin lifts our mood considerably. People who support the physiological model believe that this is why sun can lift our mood.
We all know what it feels like to be stuck in a humid environment. Humidity can make us feel tired and make us quick to anger, and many believe this is a consequence of biometric pressure on our body. There are a range of studies that link low pressure with altered moods.
The human body aims to maintain homeostasis as effectively as possible, and that's why we seek pleasant temperatures. Warmer temperatures can make us feel irritable and more aggressive, while colder temperatures might lead to feelings of lethargy.
Some people disagree that the impact of weather is purely physiological, though. Some believe that the weather has a profound psychological impact on us. A lack of color or vitality has the potential to resonate with us on a profound level and affect the way that we perceive the world around us, affecting our mood by extension.
Other people believe that weather changes our social behavior and that's what has the greatest impact on our mood. Sunny days make people feel happier and more festive, so we often congregate outside.
The psychology of weather and moods
A huge number of studies have been authored over the years which explore the link between weather and mood.
Somewhat predictably, the majority of those studies discovered that gloomy weather can make us more introspective and prone to negative feelings. Sunshine and warmer temperatures, on the other hand, have the potential to make us feel happier and more positive.
If you find that your mood is greatly affected by changes in the weather, you should try to identify the benefits of even gloomy weather. Psychologists have discovered that while gloomy weather can make us feel moody, it also boosts our ability to focus more intensely and engage in deeper thought. Studies have also revealed that cloudy days have the potential to improve our memory.
If you struggle with mood swings, try to adjust your tasks for the day to better fit the weather. If you try to feel positive and happy despite the gloomy weather, you might only frustrate yourself further and worsen your mood.
Likewise, you should attempt to make the most of sunny days. Studies have discovered that a person generally needs to enjoy a sunny day for at least 30 minutes before they can begin to enjoy the mood-lifting benefits.
How to stay positive in the winter months
Do you find that you struggle to stay positive in the cooler and gloomier months? That's entirely normal, and the majority of people find that their mood is affected by changes to the weather.
Don't worry, though. There are a series of steps that you can take to improve your mood despite the moody weather. Here's a look at some of the key techniques that you should try to use:
- Exercise regularly
Gloomy weather can often cause a vicious cycle to form where you reduce your time outside and, in turn, harm your mood even more. You should try to exercise for at least a couple of hours each week to increase the amount of time you spend outside and release endorphins that can boost your mood.
- Socialize on a regular basis
When the weather is terrible, there's a strong temptation to stay inside and lock yourself away from others. That's terrible, though, given that it can affect your mood further and sap your motivation. Try to develop a series of hobbies that you can enjoy indoors with other people so that your social life does not suffer.
- Get some quality sleep
The quality of your sleep has a huge impact on your mood. You should try to get between seven to eight hours of sleep each night so that you wake up feeling refreshed. Sleep gives you the chance to heal both mentally and physically and improve your mood.
- Focus on your diet
If you are already feeling low, low-quality foods that are packed with carbs and sugar will only serve to perpetuate your bad mood further. You should try to eat a balanced diet and really pay particular attention to your diet during the winter months, given that your level of exercise may be reduced.
- Try to address anxiety and stress
If you feel that the weather is causing your moodiness to snowball into anxiety and stress, it's important that you take practical measures to address those issues. You should try to pursue meditation, for instance, to boost your energy and elevate your mood.
- Increase your exposure to the sun
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin and if you have a vitamin D deficiency, you may find that your mood suffers. Try to increase your exposure to the sun when possible and even consider taking vitamin D supplements if you find that isn't possible.