If you find yourself mulling an excuse to get out of work when it’s raining – you are quite normal.
Think of it the effect of ‘climate change’. If you are struck by it, you are bound to feel the effects the entire day. Slots of a type of weather can elicit certain responses – in case of cold weather, for instance, scientists discovered something called “Seasonal Affective Disorder”, which is characterized by more pronounced low mood during winter months.
“Whether this effect can be seen in briefer periods of dull weather is not as well established. It seems plausible that weather-related disruption to routines and activities that are protective with regard to mental health could be a contributory factor to changes in mood,” says Dr Harry Horgan, Psychologist, German Neuroscience Center.
So here's a look at what you could be going through.
It just feels colder
Watching the rain make paintings on window panes can be a soothing activity, but it can also cause shivers. Temperatures drop when the rains come-a-calling, or they would if you were outside. That change in heat perception can do two things – a) trick your body into craving warm, comfort food and b) lull you back into a lethargic stupor.
“Such weather can also trigger binge eating habits and the desire to eat warm, comfort foods. While temperatures are not that low, our brain tells us that rain means cold and discomfort. This creates a desire for warm foods. As people spend more time indoors during the rainy weather, they have easy accessibility to snacks and screen time,” explains Sneha John, Child & Adult Psychologist, LifeWorks Holistic Counselling Centre.
It’s a time out
For all the wonderful feelings it brings, the rains also mean a practical, physical stutter – they mean a stranding at an otherwise activity-filled moment. “We tend to get bored easily with being indoors and having restricted mobility. Boredom may cause people to get involved in a vicious cycle of over-thinking and self-blame. As a result, we feel low, unmotivated and procrastinate more. Dark and gloomy outside, can increase susceptibility of feeling lonely and sad. Amongst the most common emotion, low self-esteem is the most common. Studies have also found that there is a link between rainy weather and impulsive and risky behaviours. This could be attributed to the rise in humidity which has an effect on the serotonin levels in our brain. The serotonin is a hormone responsible for mood elevation,” she adds.
Healers the world over – not to mention advertising – have benefitted from using colour to foreshadow an action. So while some tout that blue will make you feel more serene and red on a button will make you want to push it, we ask that you consider Mother Nature’s therapy sessions: grey skies and greyer moods? The bright blue that peeks behind the dark clouds – they herald a rainbow. Maybe the rain is the precursor to a happier day – but while it’s happening, it’s making you feel low?
Whether it’s a trick of the mind or rankle of the heart, nostalgia is embedded into most of our actions. So remember those rainy days in your childhood – drinking tea, eating samosas? – it all comes back as the rain starts to pitter-patter down. The longing for a time that once was – it’s enough to get anyone day dreaming.
How to deal with the mood swings
Brain over muscle works
“The most effective way of counter-acting ‘rainy day blues’ is by acknowledging the effect of rain on your mood,” explains Dr John. As the desire for more comfort food increases, challenge your thinking by telling yourself that ‘though it is wet, it is not really that cold outside and I don’t need the extra calories’. Avoid eating sugary, carbohydrate-based foods throughout the day and go for healthier snack options at regular meal times.
Work through it
Also, ensure that you keep yourself busy and make a simple checklist of pending jobs to be done for the day to get you started. Tell yourself that it’s just a regular day and I am going to get things done. Also get engaged in more movement based indoor jobs such as cleaning, sorting, clearing clutter and having friends or family over, she adds.