Girl Holding Her Knees

How the Weather Affects Our Moods

As Canadians, we know that towards the end of September and beginning of October, the sun starts to rise later and set earlier. Throughout the winter, we are used to looking outside at 4pm and only seeing darkness. During the winter season we also see less people outside, and indoor activities seem more interesting and cozy. But did you know that the weather can affect our moods and in some cases it can be so severe that people have a very hard time even getting out of bed? This is called seasonal affective disorder or SAD. According to CAMH, this only affects 2-3% of Canadians severely, but it can affect up to 15% of people in a mild manner.

For me, the people who were around me were sometimes affected by the weather, and although I understood logically how the gloominess made someone sad, I didn’t fully understand because I had never gone through it - until this past month. Although I would not say I have a severe form of SAD, I am conscious of how the weather has the power to affect my mood. When it was cold, windy and gloomy, I just wanted to stay in my dark room, under all of my blankets, not talk to anyone and watch sad movies. Of course, that would be in an ideal world, whereas in reality I had work, school and midterms. I was still up and going, trying to remain positive and telling myself that it was temporary and the weather could not control me. So, I decided to look up why the weather can control us to such a big extent.

A clinical psychologist in San Francisco reports that it has to do with the lack of exposure to UV rays, or even light in general, that makes us feel lonely and we are more likely to be sad. A 2008 study in the United Sates also shows that the temperature is one of the major factors that can negatively affect your mood, and surprisingly, that wind also plays a role in your mood.

So, what can be done to help? Sadly, not all of us have a Florida home where we can run off to during the winter. I decided to look up different things that could be done to help you and those around you. Because light is such a huge factor in mood, doctors recommend to stay in a well-lit area. Even if you are still indoors, watch a movie with the light on instead of being in a gloomy, dark room. Another suggestion is to go to the gym, that way you are leaving your house, getting some fresh air and getting the natural boost of serotonin that you are missing. If you decide you really want to stay indoors, always try to be doing something to keep your mind occupied. Read a book, or clean - that way you are not having wandering thoughts that can turn into sad thoughts making you even gloomier. And last but not least, if it gets too severe, or even just need someone to talk to, turn to your family, friends or a counsellor! Sometimes just letting out your feelings might be a great stress reliever, or they can offer their opinion too to get you out of your rut.

In Ontario, you can call Connex Ontario at 1-866-531-2600, who are experts on mental health problems and can suggest treatment services. They are open 24/7 and you can either call or chat with them online. For Laurier Brantford students, there are counsellors at the Wellness Centre who can also refer you to outside help, if needed.

Remember to always check up on your friends and family, especially during the winter!