Four Tips for Staying Up When the Weather Gets You Down
It’s more than just a song lyric—rainy days really can get you down!
Weather has a definite effect on our emotions. About 9 percent of people fall into a “rain haters” category, a group that feels angrier and less happy on days with more precipitation. When it’s dark and dreary, some of us are more susceptible to feeling lonely or down.
A lack of sunlight can cause Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. This mood disorder usually affects people during the months when daylight becomes more scarce. When exposed to less sunlight, your body produces more melatonin, the hormone which makes you feel sleepy. About 4 to 6 percent of us experience winter depression. Another 10 to 20 percent of us may have SAD, which is four times more likely to affect women than men.
What can you do to get over feeling down when the weather changes?
Turn on the lights. Light can boost serotonin levels, which regulate mood and social behavior. You may be tempted to turn out the lights and crawl into bed, but resist!
Go outside. Even on a crummy day, going outside exposes you to UV light, which boosts mood and helps regulate your circadian rhythm. This “body clock” is controlled by an area of the brain that responds to light, which is why humans are most alert while the sun is shining and are ready to sleep when it’s dark outside.
Engage in activities that make you happy. The weather may be so cold or otherwise miserable that you simply can’t enjoy any time outside. In that case, engage in activities that give you pleasure and make you feel good. Watch a happy movie, play a game, do some arts and crafts, or read a good book.
Move! Exercise gives you vitality, enhances self-esteem, and increases endorphins that have a positive effect on the mood. Put on some music and dance, break out the Wii, find a workout on YouTube, or just do some crunches.