Is the Weather Why I’m Feeling Down?

Have you ever woken up on a cold rainy morning and dreaded the thought of getting out of bed to begin a day you already predicted to be lousy? Or on a different day, have you ever woken up to a blue sky and warm sun outside, urging you to jump out of bed and take on a new day? If your answer is yes, you’re not the only one.

I experience these behaviors every day and I have always wondered if this is a real psychological or scientific phenomenon, or if it is just in my imagination. Research proves several factors associated with weather have a strong impact on people’s mood, including time spent outside, temperature, season, hours of sunlight, and how we feel about the weather.  

The Association for Psychological Science explored changes in mood from various levels of time spent outside to test the hypothesis that hours spent outside positively correlated with mood. They concluded that “Among participants who spent more than 30 min outside, higher temperature and pressure were associated with higher moods, but among those who spent 30 min or less outside, this relationship was reversed” (Keller et al., 2005) . The data is shown in Figure 1.  

Figure 1
Figure 2

These results were fascinating. Why is it that the amount of time spent outside flipped the results in the same exact weather conditions? When you spend less than 30 minutes outside on a pleasant day, people consciously resent being cooped up indoors. As seen in Figure 2, mood worsened for people indoors as the temperature became more pleasant outdoors, and mood improved outdoors as temperature increased. Another reasonable explanation could be that brief exposure to a beautiful day makes people feel irritated when carrying out normal activities indoors. Clearly, spending time outside is extremely beneficial and can be the solution to a variety of issues. 

Additionally, the temperature influences mental health. A study from the Journal of Psychosomatic Research found that people exhibited less sporadic behaviors when the temperature was consistent, and people’s behaviors fluctuated when the weather fluctuated. Moreover, the Association for Psychological Science showed season impacts mood, as warm days in the spring are best for mood and hot days in the summer are harmful to mood. In addition, the amount of sunlight is a significant determinant of daily mood. This may seem surprising, as many of us enjoy spending the entire day in bed. However, another study concluded that sunlight exposure is positively related to job satisfaction and lowers depressed mood. 

After researching the effect of weather on mood and mental health, I learned how influential the weather is on everyday life. No matter how sensitive you are to weather effect, it impacts everyone to some extent. In order to overcome the struggles that it causes, we must be aware of how strongly it can affect us and that is why this information is important for everyone to be informed of. 


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