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The Weather and Your Mood

Rainy with a chance of sadness?

Weather

Falak Zehra Mohsin |

A violent monsoon hit Karachi last year and whilst we heard a lot about the material impact of the heavy rains, we never really considered the psychological and effective impact. Considering the heat and in the sunlight that Karachi experiences all year round, the coolness of the cloudy weather and the cool drops of rainwater generally seem like a welcome change. Truth be told, a general lift in peoples’ moods can be observed when such a weather is on the horizon. However, research suggests that rain is associated with negative emotions.

So, do Karachiites defy the norms and experience an uplifted mood during a rainy day? Well, that’s not an easy question to answer! The coolness of the cloudy weather and a little bit of drizzling has a positive effect on people. It is a much-wanted relief from the desert like summer heat and the blaring sunshine of the typical Karachi weather. In fact, a research conducted in the United States showed that people living in states that recorded higher mean temperature expressed more positive effect on Twitter than those living in warmer states.

However, violent monsoons and the stormy weather like the one we are experienced last year – though sometimes feels exciting – initially has a negative effect on the people’s mood. Reduced or no sunlight has an effect on our hormones levels, the body increases production of melatonin which makes one more lethargic and sleepy and by association – a bit cranky. Moreover, the chemicals in our brain are also affected, thus impacting our moods, sleep, and appetites.

According to the research, when people feel the change in extreme weathers, it has an effect on their mood and state of mind.

Getting wet in the rain has a detrimental effect on the body as it uses more energy to dry us up and keep us warm. To sum it up, a rainy stormy season causes low moods in people. Socializing can be a good way to uplift oneself but unfortunately, that too becomes difficult as people tend to prefer to stay indoors for the sake of safety. A common observation is the road rage people display in order to reach to safety.

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To be fair, rain is not always bad for us. I personally know people who enjoy sitting outside in their gardens during the rain. They claim that the rain not only has a cooling effect but the green color of the garden, after the waterfalls on it, calms them down. Others talk about the pitter patter of the rain and its rhythm which has a comforting effect. People who appreciate and enjoy the beauty of nature tend to enjoy this weather.

To put it in simple words, the type of personality one has, tends to influence their perception and reaction to the weather. Intuitive thinkers claim that the rainy season somehow leads to fewer distractions – which allows one to focus on what is important for them. The sensing and feeling types tend to find harmony and peace in the experience of rain. Type A people tend to dislike rains as it causes hindrances and obstacles in their work.

Rain can lead to cancellation of work, difficulties in meeting deadlines, and living in Karachi – we experience, electricity, water, and internet issues. These effects tend to increase the anxiety felt by type A people. They feel greater agitation, frustration and generally tend to react to events with a flair of aggression. Of course, there are always exceptions to every type and we cannot make sweeping statements.

Considering the heat and in the sunlight that Karachi experiences all year round, the coolness of the cloudy weather and the cool drops of rainwater generally seem like a welcome change.

Monsoon is now over, and the summer is in full force. The summer of Karachi is not only hot, it is also humid. Humidity is a factor that has a strong negative impact on our moods. In a study conducted in 1984, researchers stated that out of eight weather variables – i.e. hours of sunshine, precipitation, temperature, wind direction, change on barometric pressure, absolute barometric pressure and humidity – humidity was the most significant predictor of mood changes.

Read more: “Not a Heat-wave”: Soaring Temperatures in Karachi raise fears

When humidity was high, participants reported feeling lethargic, sleepy and less able to concentrate. This seems to be true for Karachiites as well, who display tiredness and irritability during the hot days of summer.

What’s interesting is that a study conducted in different regions of Pakistan showed that it is not only the intense heat that has an impact on our mood but also the extreme winters experienced in different areas of the country. According to the research, when people feel the change in extreme weathers, it has an effect on their mood and state of mind. Depressive moods and symptoms are shown to correlate with extreme weather conditions while these symptoms reduce in milder weather conditions.

Despite the above findings, there is still a lot of variability in the link between mood and weather. In 2011, researchers identified four distinct types of people based on how they react to weather; the first category are the of ‘Summer Lovers’ who report feeling happy during warm and sunny days, second is the ‘Summer Haters’ who tend to report the opposite feeling from ‘Summer Lovers’ – i.e. worse moods in sunny warm weather.

Socializing can be a good way to uplift oneself but unfortunately, that too becomes difficult as people tend to prefer to stay indoors for the sake of safety.

The third is the ‘Rain Haters’ who report really bad moods during rainy days and the last category is ‘Unaffected’ – these are people who report the least amount of changes in their mood no matter what the weather.

Read more: 11 Characteristics of a Happy and Healthy Relationship

It is true that different people react differently to the changes in the weather and being able to understand these reactions can help us. For instance, if you understand that you are a Summer Hater, it might help you understand your low mood and you can deal with it in a better manner.

The same goes for our relationships, understanding that the intense humidity or heat can make a person grouchy can be quite helpful. We all are different and how the weather affects us is also not the same, but yet it can be said that the weather affects our moods more than we expect!

Falak Zehra Mohsin is a Psychologist and also teaches at IBA in Karachi. Falak tweets at @Falak_Z_M. The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space. 

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