Spring has sprung; sunshine and longer, lighter evenings are back! Have you noticed you’re smiling more and feeling just a bit more… alive? Did you know that the weather and season can have a profound effect on your energy, stress, ability to think, and happiness? This will be no surprise to many people who experience these effects first-hand. In fact, nearly one-third of the population is highly sensitive to atmospheric changes.1https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/weather-and-mood#takeaway
Let’s take a look at how the weather can affect your mood…
How the weather affects your energy
Light sends the message to your circadian clock to stay awake, and darkness sends the message to your brain that it’s time to rest. So, if you have noticed the sunlight is affecting your energy levels, it makes sense! This is why many people feel energised and full of life on a bright, sunny day. It’s also why you may feel your energy dip on a dull or cloudy day as there is less sunlight getting through.2https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/weather-and-mood#the-effects
How the weather affects your thinking
When it’s bright and warm outside, you may experience an improvement in memory3https://www.houstonmethodist.org/blog/articles/2021/jul/can-weather-affect-your-mood/ and feel more receptive to new ideas. If you have ADHD, this type of weather can also improve inattentiveness!4https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/weather-and-mood#the-effects
Bear in mind that these benefits come from actually going outside (which we always encourage anyway 😉) rather than being inside or just looking through a window. Check out some of the benefits to spending time outdoors here.
How the weather affects stress
Did you know the weather can even increase your feelings of stress? A drop in atmospheric pressure (e.g. during a storm) can activate the part of your brain that controls balance and perception. This may rile up your body’s stress system and make you feel on edge before a storm.
Hotter temperatures on the other hand can also increase stress levels. Increased temperatures can make some people more irritable, aggressive or anxious.5https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/weather-and-mood#the-effects
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression triggered by seasonal change. These symptoms most often begin at the end of autumn or early winter. Symptoms of SAD include depression, trouble sleeping, low energy, difficulties concentrating, overeating, agitation, a lack of interest in social activities, amongst others. The condition is more common in countries that have less sunlight and longer winter nights. It is also more common in women.6https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/
What to do?
While you can’t change the weather, there are approaches you can try to naturally boost your mood and reduce the impact weather changes have on how you’re feeling –
- If you struggle with any symptoms of SAD, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) may help. This will help you to focus on positive thoughts rather than negative ones.7https://www.healthline.com/health/seasonal-affective-disorder#treatments
- Vitamin D supplements are sometimes used for the treatment of SAD.8https://www.healthline.com/health/seasonal-affective-disorder#treatments The majority of adults in the UK don’t get sufficient sun exposure so it is a good idea to have your vitamin D levels checked and supplement if necessary, particularly during the darker winter months.
- Ashwagandha has an amazing ability to reduce anxiety, depression and stress. Ashwagandha is a natural, adaptogenic herb that has been used for thousands of years to reduce stress and anxiety and to improve concentration and energy levels. This is a great, natural option that you can use every day!
- Regular sun exposure is a great way to boost your serotonin and endorphins (happy hormones) and may reduce SAD symptoms. Spending 10-15 minutes in direct sunlight soon after you wake up is also extremely beneficial and sure to help start your day on a good note!
- Regular exercise will boost your serotonin, dopamine and endorphins, improving your mood and helping to minimise SAD symptoms.9https://www.healthline.com/health/seasonal-affective-disorder#treatments
- Light therapy is another treatment option for winter-time SAD. With light therapy, you are exposed to artificial light which helps your biological clock, serotonin activation, sleep patterns, and alertness. 10https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/light-therapy#How-light-therapy-works-to-treat-depression
It’s always best to check with your healthcare provider before starting a new supplement regime. If you are struggling with any of these symptoms without relief, you may want to connect with a professional for more support.
For more information on boosting your mood and happiness, check out our article Hormones – Your Secret Weapon to Happiness?
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