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“Rain, rain, go away…” begins the popular nursery rhyme. We often associate rainy weather with sadness; several books, movies and TV shows use rain as a device to convey a character’s depressed or downcast mood, and when talking about rainy days, we describe them as “gloomy,” “dreary,” or “miserable.” But although long-term weather patterns can and do influence mood—SAD is real, folks—the science suggests that a rainy day or two does not cause a significant dip in happiness levels.

In fact, if you are anything like me, you might actually enjoy the rain. There are enough people out there who get a serotonin boost when a storm rolls in that we have a name for them: pluviophiles, derived from the Latin word pluvius, meaning “rain,” and the Greek word philos, meaning “loving.” When I think of rain, it brings up happy feelings: the joy of splashing through the wide, muddy puddle that always formed in the rut at the edge of my front yard—watching, mesmerized, as raindrops traced their way down the back window of my mom’s old Jeep on long car rides—the sense of magic I felt when thick clouds blocked out the sun, making it dark when it should be light out, as if the world was pleasantly off-kilter.

But maybe you are still not quite convinced. Read on as I break down five reasons to love rainy weather.

Reason #1: It helps you relax and be more present.

Rain is a very sensory experience. Even when you are not physically out in the storm, you can usually still hear raindrops hitting your roof (bonus points if you are in a tent or a building with a metal roof!). It’s a very relaxing sound, as evidenced by the countless YouTube videos with titles like “10 Hour Rain Sound Relaxation” that promise to help people sleep, study or meditate. In an interview with Vice News, therapist Kimberly Hinshaw explained why so many people find the sound of rain soothing:

“Rain produces a sound akin to white noise. The brain gets a tonic signal from white noise that decreases this need for sensory input, thus calming us down.” 

So, listening to rain allows us to feel less anxious. But there is the smell of rain, too—fresh and earthy (science fact of the day: the word for this smell is “petrichor,” and it comes from oils produced by plants as well as from an organic compound called geosmin, a byproduct of bacteria working to break down leaves and other organic matter). By activating your sense of smell, rain makes you more conscious of the world around you. It brings you into the present moment. I have gotten into the habit of stopping whatever task I am working on when I hear rain to open a window or door and just take in all the sounds, smells and sights of a stormy day. It is extremely therapeutic and it allows me to return to my work feeling happy and energized.

Reason #2: Hunkering down just feels good.

Being indoors when it is raining (or snowing) always makes me feel cozy and safe. It almost feels like an animal instinct—like somewhere deep in my genetic code is a set of instructions that read: storm=danger. Shelter=good. The closest word I could find to describe this feeling is chrysalism, which Urban Dictionary defines as “The amniotic tranquility of being indoors during a thunderstorm.” This word has popped up online a few times but is not listed in any major dictionaries. Still, it is a good metaphor—the idea of being cocooned away from the outside world, getting a chance to rest and maybe even grow.

In researching chrysalism, I stumbled across several Reddit and Quora threads that discuss the topic. As one user explained: “[It’s] a hugely comforting feeling, to be so close to something so dangerous, but feel totally safe and warm and dry. There’s a very low-level sense of power and control over your own world that’s so often lacking. And it’s in relation to a really elemental fear.”

I find that the worse the weather, the more thankful I am for all the things that keep me safe and comfortable—a roof over my head, indoor heating, a comfy blanket to curl up in. In that sense, rainy days can be a good exercise in gratitude.

Reason #3: No more sunny-day FOMO!

There are some days when I just do not feel like going out. I would rather stay at home catching up on my favorite TV shows, playing a video game or working on a writing project. That is generally fine, but when the sky is bright blue and the sun is shining, I can not help but feel guilty for staying in. The fact that it is nice out makes me obligated to log some quality outdoor time and soak up the vitamin D. If I do not, I feel as though I wasted the day. Alternatively, if I want to spend the day outside but can not because of homework and classes, I feel miserable and do not want to do my work at all. 

Rain eliminates both of these problems by essentially taking away your choice. You have no other option but to stay in, so there is no need to worry about what you could be missing out on! I am able to do my homework in peace without constantly sneaking a glance at the window or finding my mind drifting to think about all the other ways I could be spending that time.

Reason #4: The world confirms your misery.

Being sad sucks. But being sad around happy people sucks even more. So to feel that the weather syncs up with how you are feeling is actually a bit validating. And you can always gaze out the window dramatically and watch the rainfall like a character from a Brontë novel.

Reason #5: It’s a chance to reset.

Earlier, I mentioned that rain can symbolize a character’s melancholy feelings. But rain can also symbolize renewal. After all, rain is necessary to sustain crops and other plant life. The connection between rain and renewal is especially strong for those who live in arid climates where rain does not come often. But regardless of where you are from or your experiences are, a good storm can leave you feeling emotionally cleansed, as if all the bad feelings were washed out of you. When the rain stops, the clouds clear and the sun finally comes back out, you can step out of your chrysalis state, rejuvenated, spread your metaphorical wings and fly.

Elizabeth is a freshman at Saint Louis University. She enjoys reading, spending time with friends, and iced coffee.
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