Our moods and psychological well-being can be affected by many factors in our environment, those we have control over and others that we do not. Although we have absolutely no control over it, the weather can change and affect our mental state and how we feel. And, some people are more affected by the weather than others. As your counselor in the South Bay, I hope to first enhance your awareness of how your feelings and psychological state may shift depending on the current weather and second, help you manage your emotions when the weather is not in your favor. Let’s now discuss the different types of weather and how they can affect us on a daily basis.
The temperature has immediate physical effects on our bodies which in turn can have psychological effects. For example, as the temperature decreases, specifically during the winter months, it is more difficult for our bodies to stay warm and keep our heart rates at a consistent pace. All of the energy in our bodies is used to warm our body and keep us alive. As a direct result of this, we have less energy and we may feel more lethargic overall. Feeling lethargic or a little lazy is completely normal, however, when this feeling becomes more of extreme, anxiety, depression, and feelings of loneliness can increase. On the opposite end of the spectrum, when the temperature is warm, we have more energy throughout the day, which can boost our mood and overall happiness. I always want my clients to be aware of their surroundings. If you feel that temperature changes affect you more than they should, let’s discuss ways to cope with these changes throughout the year and ensure sustained psychological well being no matter the weather outside.
The sun has always been known to have positive effects on our bodies, physically and mentally. Unfortunately, the lack of sunlight can have negative effects as well. Our brains are triggered by the presence of sunlight. When sunlight is present, our brains stop producing melatonin, a natural sleep hormone produced by our bodies. Without the production of melatonin, we have more energy and we are more awake. Sunlight also causes our bodies to produce serotonin, a feel good hormone. While in the sun, we naturally feel more happy because of the serotonin production. When there is a lack of sunlight, our bodies experience the opposite side effects of sunlight: we have less energy, we feel more sleepy, and overall may be less happy. During long stretches of rainy days or the winter months, depression increases for some clients. Many clients may even suffer from seasonal affective disorder, also known as winter depression or seasonal depression. When the nights are much longer, the temperatures are colder, and sunlight is sparse, our bodies feel the effects.
Areas with extreme weather conditions like hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods cause a higher risk of physical and mental stress on those who live in these areas. Such harsh weather conditions can increase psychological distress, stress, anxiety, substance abuse, and suicides. These types of weather conditions are harsh on the physical environment around us, and also quite nerve-wracking for the people who have to endure these natural disasters on an annual basis. If you feel that your psychological well-being is at risk when extreme weather may occur (or is even talked about on the news), let’s discuss the proper way to cope with these feelings. Unfortunately, extreme weather has become more prevalent in the past few years, increasing mental health issues among many clients. Know that you are not alone when it comes to dealing with extreme weather. One of the most helpful coping strategies is creating a network of support, which may include talking with a therapist.
Through various studies of weather and the effects it has on the human body, physically and mentally, some research has concluded that a more temperate climate is best. Warmer temperatures in the winter months and average temperatures in the summer months have been connected to higher levels of happiness for people living in these areas. Also, mild winters and cooler summers make it easier to be outside and enjoy nature throughout the year, which also increases happiness levels and decreases depression. For those who are affected more intensely by the weather, a temperate climate may be the most ideal answer.
Do you think the weather has a significant effect on your psychological well-being? Let’s discuss this in more detail. As your South Bay counselor, I want to help you deal with the weather changes, whether it’s day to day or seasonal. Together, we can identify which weather climate affects you the most and how best to cope with it. Call my South Bay office to talk about these options today. The weather is constantly changing, but that does not mean your mood and mental state have to change too!