‘This rainy day is temporary;’ What role does the environment play in our emotions?

Opinion by Nora Corrigan

April showers bring May flowers, and with that comes sunshine and rainbows and ultimate happiness, right? What about the calm and serenity of a snowstorm? We all feel just as quiet and serene as the falling snow and not isolated or stuck inside worrying about why mom is taking just a little longer than usual to get home. Nope. Our minds couldn’t possibly be swayed by the environmental changes going around us.

If I’m being honest, I do find it harder to do homework later than 6 p.m. during daylight savings time. I do feel a little bit more down on the days the sun refuses to shine. So, maybe weather does affect our moods.

I’m a firm believer in the idea that the weather plays a significant role in our emotions. I notice a world of a difference in my mood, motivation and overall presence when the sun is out versus a cloudy day. Similarly, when it’s snowy and the roads are closed, my worries and anxiety are only heightened by the fear of friends or family getting injured in car accidents, rather than enjoying a calm, quiet day inside.

When the sun is shining, especially during the summer, I spend hours outside. I’ll ride my bike, go for a walk, spend time reading outside, maybe go swimming; I’ll do anything to soak up the sun. I am generally more positive and upbeat, and I have the tendency to throw caution to the wind (which really means I’m so happy the sun is out that I’ll spend that extra $8 on an overpriced iced coffee). I genuinely thrive the most when the sun is out.

On the other hand, cloudy, dreary days are extremely difficult for me. I don’t want to leave my bed. I don’t want to finish any homework assignments. Forget going outside too, because that will only make things worse. I tend to feel more lonely and isolated on rainy days. My emotions just feel like they’ve reached a tipping point when the clouds steal the spotlight.

The reality is, I can’t rely solely on sunny days to complete my homework or fulfill other responsibilities, and I can’t waste my days away in bed when I see a few raindrops roll down my window. However, the environment plays such a significant role in changing my emotions that I certainly can’t ignore its presence either. So what’s the solution?

I’ve been aware of how my emotions are impacted by the change in weather for a few years now and have fortunately discovered some things that are successful in balancing my mood swings, whether it’s sunny or cloudy. Regardless of weather status, I always, always open my blinds. I love being able to look outside and watch the bunnies sneak through the fence or watch that one stray cat roam a little too close to the neighbor’s dog. Opening my blinds has allowed me to witness interactions like that and remind me that life, in all forms, still goes on even without sunshine.

Probably the most effective way I balance emotions when the weather doesn’t seem to work in my favor is through humanizing the environment. It sounds outlandish and silly and maybe it even discredits all that I’ve written so far, but just hear me out (or read me out rather).

The environment has bad days too. Just as those around me don’t expect me to have a smile on my face 100% of the time, I can’t expect the environment to do so either. I also like to remind myself that weather isn’t personal. The environment did not decide to choose a rainy day in hopes of ruining my day; it simply chose to exist in whatever way was natural.

I understand that this approach to combating the mood swings brought on by weather changes might sound like I’m going off the deep end, and maybe I am, but it’s what works for me, and it might just work for you too. If you feel like a change in the environment creates a change in your emotions in turn, I encourage you to open your blinds, thank the earth for simply being, and throw caution to the wind and buy that overpriced coffee, even on the cloudy days.

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