Impacts of Weather on the Human Body (Credit: Bustle, Emotion, Huffington Post, Mayo Clinic, The Ohio State University, Public Library of Science, WebMD)
Image: Sad Man And Rain
DISCUSSION: Do you feel happier and more energetic when the sun shines or when it’s warm outside versus when it’s rainy or cold? Well there’s a scientific explanation for it! From your mood, energy level, and even hormone production, the weather and climate affect both your mental health and how you feel on a day-to-day basis.
A 2008 study highlighted climatological factors including cold temperatures, decreased sunlight, and higher wind as contributors to negative moods, and I can attest to higher winds putting a damper on my mood! More recently, a 2017 study explained how extreme heat during the severe Californian drought resulted in increased poverty crime. Looking more generally, a Huffington Post article shared similar results from additional studies that showed a direct correlation between increasing global temperatures and crime such as domestic violence, rape, and suicide. While the psychology behind these acts are still being explored, researchers have created multiple models to explain why violent crimes are more common in hotter climates.
The changing of seasons can greatly impact your emotions as well. Many people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression associated with the changing seasons that impacts the body’s energy level and oftentimes mood. This is very prevalent in the wintertime as cold temperatures reduce sensory feedback, dexterity, muscle strength, blood flow and balance. The cold temperatures can shock people’s systems and make it very easy to put off daily duties and be secluded under warm blankets in bed. Changing seasons aren’t the only weather patterns that cause SAD though, day-to-day weather phenomena will do the trick as well.
You’ll often hear people complain about rainy days, or any form of precipitation in general. Well, in the absence of sunlight on cloudy or rainy days, your body produces more melatonin (the hormone that makes you feel tired) and your brain produces lower levels of serotonin (the hormone that affects your mood when there is less sunlight). Many people also feel sleepier and melancholy on cold and/or rainy days, because your heart rate speeds up and body uses more energy to stay dry and warm. You are also more likely to stay inside as a result of SAD on rainy days. This minimizes socialization, one of the most powerful antidepressants.
As we are nearing the final month of the 2017-18 winter season, here are a few tips for combating changes in mood or mental health due to changes in weather and climate.
Learn more societal impacts of weather here.
© 2018 Weather Forecaster Amber Liggett