Feeling Blue?

How the weather affects our mood

It seems intuitive that when the sun is out, we generally feel happier, whether or not one also enjoys the calming effects of rain. The link is weaker than one might imagine however, with some research even suggesting weather has little to do with mood, though the majority would say otherwise. For example, one study found that diners tipped more generously on sunny days. Highly sensitive people (HSPs) have also been shown to have more noticeable reactions to day-to-day weather changes.

It has also been found that weather has more of an effect on a person’s negative mood than their positive one. It is unlikely that if you are already feeling happy and upbeat that the rain will bring you down again, you’ll probably take it in your stride. However, there is more evidence for rain making a person feel worse when they were already not at their best, and more evidence for the sun easing a person’s negative feelings.

You may have heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is a type of depression that recurs on a seasonal basis. SAD can even occur during the summer, though this is less common. SAD is diagnosed when the subject has symptoms of major depression, but this doesn’t mean that people don’t experience more minor symptoms due to seasonal change too. The specific cause of seasonal mood changes is unknown, but some hypothesised factors are the changes in one’s biological clock and the drop of serotonin which can be caused by a lack of sunlight.

A lack of vitamin D, which is mostly acquired through sunlight, can also lead to tiredness, fatigue, and has been linked to depression. Therefore, spending more time outdoors on sunny days can help to boost low moods. Even going out on cloudy days has been shown to help regulate the body’s circadian rhythm. This could be especially valuable in the case of home learning, where a lot of us spend more time indoors.

Anika V