We’ve been using the weather for metaphors about moodiness and depression for centuries. When we think of feeling blue or gloomy, we often also associate the feelings with cloudy, rainy, gray days. Likewise, the word sunny is often used to refer to feelings of cheer.
As it turns out, the amount of sunlight we receive each day may actually affect our mood. In the 1980s Dr. Norman Rosenthal and some of his colleagues coined the term Seasonal Affective Disorder (ironically, SAD). His research found that while many people reported they did not like the short cold days that begin around October and last until spring, nearly millions actually experience decreased energy, productivity and creativity.
In short, if you feel you are a victim of the “winter blues,” you are not alone, and you aren’t merely being dramatic. (Coincidingly, Rosenthal reported that a counter study was done to determine whether some people experienced a summer SAD and found that people who did were likely susceptible to heat and overexposure to sunlight).
While we can’t control the seasons or the weather, if you are feeling blue during this end-of-winter heavy downpour, there are a few things that might help relieve those depression-like symptoms.
Try finding open space in your home, turning on the lights and stretching—maybe yoga, if that’s your thing. Stretching is a great way to relieve some physical stress. It also increases blood flow to your muscles, which leaves you feeling a little more energetic and helps reduce tension and soreness.
If that doesn’t help, you can try adjusting your perspective and use a more internal approach. Close your eyes and actively listen to the pitter patter of raindrops. Instead of trying to create or channel lost energy, relax and reflect on ways in which rain also breathes life into our world.
Though we’re in the midst of a very rainy week, two days behind us and several up ahead, keep your chin up. Try doing something high energy like cleaning or indoor exercise or indulge in some relaxation with a good book and some freshly baked goods. Either way, remember those wise words we’ve all heard from Annie, “The sun’ll come out tomorrow!” Hang on for a few more days, spring is on its way.