Does Weather Affect My Mood?

Human emotions are extremely complex and may be influenced by many different elements. Genetics, external factors, and lifestyle choices can all affect your mood. And for many people, the weather can play a significant role in how they feel from day to day.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Sometimes referred to as the “winter blues”, SAD affects millions of people throughout the US.

SAD is not considered a separate disorder but is a type of depression characterized by its recurrent seasonal pattern, with symptoms lasting about 4 to 5 months per year. Therefore, the signs and symptoms of SAD include those associated with major depression, and some specific symptoms that differ for winter-pattern and summer-pattern SAD. Not every person with SAD will experience all of the symptoms listed below.

Symptoms of major depression may include:

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Experiencing changes in appetite or weight
  • Having problems with sleep
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated
  • Having low energy
  • Feeling hopeless or worthless
  • Having difficulty concentrating

National Institute of Mental Health

sad boy leaning over rail

Even for those who are not affected by SAD, the weather can have a smaller but noticeable impact on their emotional state.

Battling the Winter Blues

Although we cannot control the weather, we can take positive steps to prevent it from controlling our emotions. There are a variety of activities and techniques which have been proven to help boost your mood when you are feeling down.

Exercise

Just 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times per week can effectively improve your mental health and overall well-being; and you don’t even have to fit that 30 minutes of exercise into a single session. For example, studies have shown that going for two 15-minute brisk walks is equally beneficial to taking one 30-minute walk.

woman walking in nature

Moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity means you’re working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat. One way to tell if it’s a moderate-intensity aerobic activity is that you’ll be able to talk, but not sing the words to your favorite song. Here are some examples of activities that require moderate effort:

  • Walking fast
  • Doing water aerobics
  • Riding a bike on level ground or with few hills
  • Playing doubles tennis
  • Pushing a lawn mower

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Eating Healthy

If you are feeling down, it may be tempting to binge on high calorie foods. But indulging in this will most likely make you feel worse. Maintaining a healthy diet not only benefits your physical health but can also positively influence mental health. Some studies have proven that eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of depression. Fermented foods such as yogurt which contain probiotics correlate with increased serotonin levels, providing you with a natural mood boost.

 
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