Does Weather Affect Mood, or is it Mind Over Matter?
We have officially reached the point in the semester when students are cranky and find themselves having to drag their bodies to class. Apart from a simple lack of desire to go, there could be another factor altering our moods: weather.
You look out your window first thing in the morning and see darkness in the sky and puddles on the ground. It is already apparent that you are in for a long day, and you are automatically in a bad mood.
There is something about having to wear multiple layers including a hooded sweatshirt, sweatpants, and rain boots that seems to put people in a bad mood. However, when we put on our flowery blouse, Bermuda shorts, and wedge sandals, we feel good because we know we look good.
Admit it. There is an extra spring in your step when it is 70 degrees and sunny. You are a lot less moody and pessimistic about the day when you look out your window and see that the sun is shining without a cloud in sight.
On the other hand, you are noticeably grouchy when it is cold and raining, forcing you to bundle up with multiple layers.
Just as you leave your dorm and are halfway to your class it starts to rain. As you struggle to wrangle your umbrella out of your bag while balancing your coffee and your books, you are now in an even worse mood.
After being beaten by the rain, you get to class and already cannot wait for it to be over so you can go back to bed. When the weather is bad, it feels as if one bad part of the day leads to another, and it is all downhill from there.
“Weather definitely affects my mood. When I only see darkness when I look out my window, all I am thinking is, ‘I don’t want to go outside’,” said Meredith Cahill, sophomore. “All I want to do is stay inside and watch movies.”
When the weather is nice, students are a lot friendlier and in overall better moods because they have more to look forward to. After class, students can go to the beach, play football on the residential quad, or have lunch in front of the student center.
Simply knowing that an exciting afternoon awaits is encouraging. It makes you to want to get through the day. You are more willing to get up and out of bed to go to class or work and get on with the rest of your day.
However, in the midst of dreary weather, students are caged indoors. Seeing nothing but the four walls of one’s dorm room can cause stress and agitation.
“I hate feeling like I am confined to being in my room all day, and it can make some people feel stir crazy,” Cahill added. “I enjoy being outside and getting fresh air.”
The mind needs stimulation. Being outdoors, enjoying the sun, and people watching can only add to a better mind.
“Being stuck in the same place for a long period of time stresses you out,” said Kristin Kleinberg, sophomore.
Apart from the need for mental stimulation, there are obvious benefits to fresh air. Sitting outside to do homework or to write can provide inspiration. When the weather is bad, students are not in the mood to do anything other than curl up in bed and sleep.
When the weather outside is miserable, no one wants to take the long walk from their dorm to the library in order to research the paper that was assigned two weeks ago. When it is cold and raining, who wants to make the long trek from the residential side of campus all the way to the gymnasium?
“When the weather is nice, you feel more alive and are more motivated to get your school work done,” said Kleinberg.
“When it comes to temperature and weather, the more comfortable you are, the better you feel,” Cahill said.
When students are faced with beautiful weather, they have more energy. They then feel more motivated to put in a few extra hours of homework or study time. Students are less reluctant to go to the gym and work out or take a jog around campus.
“Weather definitely affects your activity level,” Cahill added. “You get more done when it is nicer outside because you have more motivation. You want to be outside doing something productive when the weather is nice, but you don’t want to be out in bad weather running errands, getting in and out of the car.”
Spending the entire day indoors seems like the only logical solution to dealing with bad weather, but staying inside a dorm room when the weather is gorgeous gives one the impression that they are wasting away the day.
Weather also has an effect on our social lives. Students are more likely to want to stop and talk to someone on the way to class when it is nice outside. When the weather is cold and rain is pouring, students always seem to be in a hurry as they try and rush straight from class to their dorms or to their cars.
Although weather can alter one’s mood, students should remember that mood and behavior can be a case of mind over matter. Just because there is a monsoon outside your window does not mean that you are in for a miserable day.
On the same token, just because the weather outside makes you feel as if you are on a tropical vacation, you should not assume that you will have a perfect day.
Weather can change our moods only as much as we let it. Although it is tempting to stay in bed all day the next time it is cold and raining, motivate yourself to be as productive as you would have been if the weather was nice outside.