It’s not the weather, It’s attitude.
Beep! Beep! The alarm goes off too early on a frigid morning. The sky is overcast and we’re forced out of the comfort of our warm beds to face this dreary weather. “This terrible weather is bringing me down,” we silently curse to the cloudy sky as we muddle through the rest of the morning in a less-than-sunny disposition.
Colder weather gets the blame for some of our foul moods. We’ve even given this a name, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). But is the cold weather really the culprit? I’ll admit that I’ve been in a bad mood on the sunniest of days in the heart of summer. So, is it really weather? Some new studies might surprise you.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
SAD is still a poorly understood problem as there are many components to it. Genetics, ions in the air, and even brain chemicals all come in to play, but what we do know is that it centers around light. Fall and winter bring shorter and shorter days, leading to less and less sunlight exposure. The amount of light isn’t the only issue, it’s the timing. Bright light in the mornings seem to help most when treating symptoms of SAD.
So how many people experience SAD? About 4 to 6%. Which doesn’t seem to account for all the poor attitudes we might run into. In fact, the percentage doesn’t seem to vary much from place to place. For example, Alaska sometimes get just 4 hours of daylight and their rate of SAD is comparable to many other states. New research, done by scientist David Kerr, suggests that we might be blaming too much on the weather.
“It is clear from prior research that SAD exists,” Kerr said. “But our research suggests that what we often think of as the winter blues does not affect people nearly as much as we may think.”
So, if even winter weather doesn’t bring us down as much as we thought, what is?
The effects of weather on daily mood
Common sense tells us that sunshine makes us feel good and rainy, gloomy days make us sad. However, studies like the one we just talked about, are consistently finding very little association. Another article decided to take a different look at it. They looked at temperature, sunlight, and wind power as factors that could influence a person’s mood and what the person’s mood was to start.
Weather did not appear to influence people who were in a positive mood, but it did have an effect on those who were already in a poor mood. This flips conventional wisdom on its head. It’s not the weather that puts us in a bad mood, it’s our own attitude that gets accentuated by weather.
What we can do
A lot of this discussion centers around sunlight. One of the reasons a lack of sunlight is associated with lower energy or mood is because sun exposure generates vitamin D. Try spending some extra time outside during the cooler months. Vitamin D supplementation might also be helpful but remember to follow the recommendations of your doctor or chiropractor on the amount you should be taking.
It can also be beneficial to try and start your day on a positive note. Get plenty of rest to avoid feeling tired in the morning. Try a positive morning routine with some affirmations, prayers, or focusing on what you’re thankful for in life. Don’t let the weather be your scape goat, it’s in your power to change your attitude.