With the occasional exception, I can’t stand rainy days. They often leave me feeling tired, lazy, and depressed. I’ve discovered in recent years that I’m infinitely happier when the sun is shining, the weather is warm, and I’m surrounded by nature. This is one of the reasons that I’m so excited to be moving to a farm next year.
I think if you talk to most people, they would agree that weather has an effect on mood. After all, Seasonal Affective Disorder is classified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as a specifier for Major Depressive Disorder. While I was researching weather’s effect on mood, I came across this article that discusses the results of a study (Denissen et al., 2008) that showed that weather actually has very little effect on mood. The article also notes that there are two previous studies that also indicate “surprisingly small or sometimes non-existent effects of weather on mood”. Denissen et al. (2008) suggest that we only think the weather has significant effects on our mood because everyone thinks and says it does. I know that we’re all susceptible to becoming caught up in groupthink, but could this really be the only reason why the rain makes me and so many others want to crawl into bed and hide?
That’s when I came across another article that discusses the results of a study aimed at explaining why we don’t see the effect that weather has on mood in research. According to Klimstra et al. (2011), there are large differences between individuals regarding the effect that weather has on mood which end up averaging out across populations, producing results that lead us to believe that weather has little to do with mood. Klimstra et al. (2011) found that there were 4 distinct groups of people: unaffected (about half of the people in the study), summer lovers, summer haters, and rain haters. I would classify myself as a summer lover/rain hater.
In order to combat feelings of depression on rainy days, I try to think about the fact that rain is a natural part of the Earth’s healthy cycle. The water falling from the sky that makes me soggy and cranky also nourishes and sustains all of the life that makes me so happy. When I think of it that way, things start to feel a little brighter. As for those occasional exceptions that I mentioned earlier, I really enjoy sun showers in the summer, and when I have the day off on a rainy day, it can be fun to hide away indoors with cool people and just hang out. What are your thoughts on rainy days?