Is there some truth to feeling moody on wet days?
With all of this rain about the past few days, I've personally started feeling a little low. Why is that? Is it the obvious that I just prefer sunshine? Is it that I should be on the beach and feel frustrated that I'm not? Perhaps I simply hate feeling cooped up at home? Or is there actually a physiological explanation for my feeling blue? This got me reading and researching the web on a morning where there was little else to do.
So apparently, day to day weather changes have very little effect on our moods. A 2008 study conducted by Jaap Denissen about the effects of weather on daily mood found that weather fluctuations accounted for very little variance in people's day-to-day mood. This was a surprising discovery since there are so many observable changes in human behaviour associated with our changes in weather.
This research did show that there was an association between the amounts of sunlight and feeling fatigued. The less sunlight people were exposed to, the more they exhibited depression-like symptoms. The study concluded that in the winter season of the northern hemisphere, as days got shorter, people experienced more feelings of reported fatigue during the day, and also craved more carb-rich foods.
OK, so these past 3 days of wet weather in Sydney town are not really comparable to the northern winters of this study, but perhaps there's something in there about darker, sunless rainy days?
Another cool study that I found was one from 2013 which looked at aggression and the climate. It found that the more it rained (especially in areas where high rainfall is not expected), the more aggressive people seemed to get. This was also true for higher temperatures. We apparently are all more placated when things are moderate and dry!
In my gloomy-mooded, wet weather internet trawl this morning, one final research paper which interested me and probably gives the best explanation (in my opinion) was a Dutch psychologist's study of 2011. Klimstra, the author, stated that the impact of weather may really depend on your personality type! Sounds simple and plausible. He grouped his subjects into the 4 'weather personality' types – summer lovers, summer haters, rain haters and those unaffected by weather.
Guess that makes me a 'rain hater'!
(If you're interested, his definition of a rain hater was one who was "angrier and less happy on days with more precipitation. By comparison, more happy, but less angry, on days with more sunshine and higher temperatures.")
Defines me perfectly, well today anyway!
The best way to beat low mood
It has been well documented that exercise can alleviate the symptoms of low mood and in low depressive disorders. We can make inferences from these well documented positive effects on our temporary low moods such as with the weather. Beats the opposite –feeling sorry and eating lots of the wrong foods! Haven't we all been there?
The Beyond Blue initiative on depression states:
'Keeping active can help a person stay physically fit and mentally healthy. Research shows that keeping active can:
• help lift mood
• help people get a good night's sleep
• increase energy levels
• help block negative thoughts and/or distract people from daily worries
• help people feel less alone if they exercise or socialise with others
• increase well-being.'
So in all this rain, get to your gym, to your Fix class, or pop down a mat on the floor at home and exercise! Not only will it kill an hour or more, but it will distract you from that awful rain outside, increase your energy levels, and your feelings of happiness! Get those endorphins pumping.
And what the heck, why not take it to the next level and go out for a walk or run in the rain and pretend you're 6 years old again!