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Meteoropathy

‘A sunny disposition’, ‘A face like thunder’, ‘Being under the weather’ – the English language is full of references to the ways weather can affect our mood, energy and even mental health. The rule of thumb is that cold is bad and warm is good, but personal preference does play a part. A study from 2011 found that we all typically fall into one of four categories when it comes to weather:

  • Summer lovers: Your mood improves with warm, sunny weather.
  • Summer haters: Your mood declines with warm, sunny weather.
  • Rain haters: Your mood declines on rainy, stormy days.
  • Unaffected: Weather doesn’t affect your mood very much at all.

So, which are you? Knowing this might help you navigate the winter blues or the summer’s hot weather. If you are not sure, keeping a journal might help. Note the weather, how you feel and any other information you think might be useful. Once you know you can monitor the weather forecast so you can prepare a low-stress schedule for days you will find difficult. And, of course, remember what William Arthur Ward (American motivational writer) said, “A cloudy day is no match for a sunny disposition”.

A different study has revealed that about 30% of people are significantly affected by the weather. This is known as Meteoropathy. There are certain groups of people who are more susceptible to this. Namely, women, older adults, people with the personality trait neuroticism and those who have a diagnosed mood disorder. Common symptoms include fatigue, irritability, poor concentration and apathy, hypersensitivity to pain, headache, dizziness, anxiety, insomnia and pain around old scars or injuries. These symptoms disappear or significantly improve when the weather changes.

Jerzy Kosinski (Polish-American novelist) certainly seems to have been a sufferer. He said, “In London, the weather would affect me negatively. I react strongly to light. If it is cloudy and raining, there are clouds and rain in my soul”.

As a rule, winter weather tells your body it’s time to shelter and hibernate, using less energy during the colder months. Warmer temperatures can boost your energy along with your mood, but only up to a certain level (depending on what you are used to). After that, the heat may make you tired and feel the urge to escape to somewhere cooler.

Daylight and strong sunlight can also impacts energy. It stimulates the production of vitamin D and it also tells your circadian clock to be awake, while darkness tells it that it’s time to sleep. So, long, bright days can energise you, while short or cloudy days will make you feel tired and sleepier.

No matter where you are in the world the weather can have an impact on you. In the northern hemisphere we are in summer and battling some extreme hot weather.

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