We spend much of the year looking forward to summer, or looking back on it with fondness. We love the warmth of the sun and the freshness of a soft summer rain.
But before long, summer weather has a habit of wearing on us. Sunny days turn to unbearable heat, and stormy weekends spoil our plans. Here’s how to deal with it all!
Dealing with the Heat & Humidity
Several studies have found a correlation between the weather and mood. Pleasant weather is usually described as warm, and bright. But there may be threshold for people’s tolerance of hot, sunny days—especially if humidity is added to the mix.
School children have been the subjects of a few important studies, which show that concentration and behavior are favorably affected by pleasant weather, and negatively affected when it gets hotter and stickier. In research on adult study participants, the benefits of nice weather included better sleep patterns and better memory.
Knowing that hot, humid weather can have this impact on mood, it’s recommended to stay as cool and dry as possible in a heat wave! One tactic for beating the effects of heat is to wear absorbent clothing in light colors, or clothes made of new moisture wicking materials. Staying dry helps the body feel cooler.
Also, even though it might seem obvious, many people don’t take care to drink enough water when the temperature rises. Dehydration can impair your thinking ability, as cells in your body will borrow water from the brain when in need. And your muscles appreciate hydration as well—you’ll literally have more energy if you drink enough water in the dog days of summer.
Finally, eat a balanced diet. You might lose your appetite in hot or humid weather, but it’s important to keep your vitamin intake high—especially water soluble vitamins like B and C, which your body can lose via perspiration and urination.
Getting Through the Rainy Days
It’s actually true for many of us: rainy days can bring us down. Research has shown that extended periods of gray weather do have an effect on the moods of many people, and periods of extreme rain can cause even the most balanced of us to take an emotional dive. Similar to a heat wave, dark and rainy periods can even cause an uptick in violence.
So, while a lot of us “love a rainy night,” as the song says, if the rainy weather pattern goes on for too long, it can mean a foul disposition, or a depressed state. In most medical circles, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is considered a depressive disorder with a seasonal pattern which is directly related to the weather. Long dark winters tend to be a problem for people in certain regions, and also, extended periods of rainy, gray skies. So if we have a wet spring and summer, the disorder can kick in.
Some experts recommend getting out into the light any time it’s possible to offset the cumulative effects of a gray or rainy spell. People with serious cases of SAD might even be prescribed a form of light therapy, similar to tanning booths but for a health effect, instead of an aesthetic one. But for the rest of us, heading outside for a quick walk when we see a break in the clouds can make a real difference in our state of mind.
Another result of rainy weather tends to be lethargy—a “blah” mood where we just want to cuddle up and stay indoors. Experts advise that it might not be a bad choice to take an occasional break from your outdoor routine to avoid nasty weather. Staying indoors and indulging in some down time with a book or a movie, along with the light from lamps and the television screen, might actually counteract the effects of the gray skies outside.