Weather and Moods

Charlotte Liao, staff writer

The first snow came a month or two ago, and already we have trouble remembering what summer feels like! Often, we associate rainy days with sadness and sunny days with being happier. But how much does weather actually affect our moods?

As it turns out, the conditions outside actually can make you feel a certain way! Psychologists at Healthline report that sunlight may trigger your brain to release more of the hormone serotonin, which makes you happier and more at peace. Healthine also reported that cold or rainy days, on the other hand, can bring on sad feelings.

How can you stay happy on a rainy day? It’s not as hard as some might think. Tecsia Evans, Ph.D, a psychologist quoted on WebMD, recommends turning on the lights inside, because the light could help your brain release the serotonin that we may normally get from the sun. We should stay positive on rainy days, too, because people who are already in good spirits are not much affected by bad weather. The Huffington Post reports a 2008 study proved that people who were in more pleasant moods at the start of the day were not saddened by rain or made happier by sunshine. People in bad moods, however, were greatly impacted by the weather outside, for better or for worse. The moral of the story? Dreary weather will not get you down if you begin the day with positivity.

We’ve already heard that sunlight can boost your mood, and rain can do the opposite. But what about warm and cold weather?

Well, since warm weather is often caused (in part) by sunshine, it would seem like a higher temperature would create a happier mood. But ScienceDaily reports that a study from the University of Michigan found that the heat itself, not just sunlight, may have a role in this. After recording over 600 subjects’ moods in different climates, the researchers discovered that most people are happiest when in an area with a temperature of 72 degrees. Interestingly, people that were used to colder climates felt best at around 65 degrees, and people who lived in warmer places sometimes showed the best moods at 86 degrees. But while heat may bring happiness, warm days aren’t completely positive, either. According to the Huffington Post, a group of researchers at the University of California at Berkeley found that the rate of violent crimes in America often rises with the temperature. It’s possible that this is brought on by the longer days, because with more daylight people are often out and about for longer periods of time than they would be in the winter.

Winter, although safer, can cause some people to grow depressed. The Kim Foundation reports that colder months are often darker, which limits serotonin levels and boosts levels of melatonin- a chemical that makes people sad and tired- in your brain.

It often helps to simply be prepared for your mental state to possibly change with the weather. There are certainly ways to avoid negative effects of the rain and the cold. Stay positive, mainly, and wait for the sun to come out!