Blazing Flare of Weather: How is your Wellness?

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May 20, 2024

Writer: CJ Dumaguin
Researcher: CJ Dumaguin
Graphics: Richardson Mojica
Tweet Chat Moderators: Richardson Mojica
Relationships can be turbulent, futures can be cloudy, dispositions can be sunny, and moods can brighten and darken. Much like the seasons, our emotions can appear at times like fickle forces of nature: unstable, uncontrollable, and enveloping.

Far more than the blazing heat and sudden change of weather, how are you doing?

How is your wellness?

Wellness Matters.

Though it encompasses much more, people frequently think of wellness in terms of physical health, including diet, exercise, managing weight, and so on. Wellness is the comprehensive and holistic integration of mental, physical, and spiritual well-being – providing nourishment for the body, nurturing the mind, and fostering the spirit. It necessitates good self-stewardship, for ourselves and for those we care about and who care about us [1].

Mindfulness, which means staying in the moment, has been linked to a multitude of benefits, ranging from increased happiness to better resilience [2]. Although mindfulness is a skill that takes practice and dedication, over time you can get better at learning how to be present and in the moment. Doing so has a number of benefits too [2].

For instance, studies suggest that mindfulness helps people manage stress, cope with serious illnesses, and reduce anxiety and depression [2]. In fact, people who practice mindfulness are better able to relax, have improved self-esteem, and possess more enthusiasm for life [2].

We should aim, instead, to strive for a “personal harmony” that feels most authentic to us [1]. We naturally have our own priorities, approaches, and aspirations, including our own views of what it means to live life fully.

But the weather is too hot these days. How should we manage our wellness then?

Drink Your Water, B*by! Kalma.

Sunshine is the one component that is intimately tied to the mood among all others. Although the link is weaker than many people imagine, sunlight has repeatedly been found to boost positive moods, dampen negative moods, and diminish tiredness.

Our behavior can be impacted by anything that alters our mood. Research by Sydney’s Joseph Forgas in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology shows that sunshine can also affect our mental sharpness [3].

This effect accords with other findings that negative moods induce careful and systematic cognition. Grey weather may similarly induce sober, grey-flannelled thinking. In a paper titled “Clouds make nerds look good”, Uri Simonsohn showed that university admissions officers weighted the academic credentials of applicants more on overcast days, and their non-academic attributes more on sunny ones [3].

Temperature can also affect our mind and behavior, independently of sunshine. The more it departs from an ideal of around 20°C, the more discomfort we feel. One study found that rates of helping declined as temperatures dropped below or rose above this value [3].

In addition, the higher the temperature, the more people are likely to act aggressively. Rates of aggression are higher in hotter years, months, days, and times of day, a pattern observable for murders, riots, and car-horn honking [3].

You Need to Calm Down.

Aspects of weather beyond heat and sunshine have been shown to affect mood. Humidity tends to make people more tired and irritable. Barometric pressure fluctuations can alter moods and trigger headaches, with some studies finding a link between low pressure and suicide. On rainy days people report lower satisfaction with their lives [3].

Weather influences our psychology in myriad subtle ways. Why this might be the case is not entirely obvious. One possibility is that the effects of weather on mood are primarily physiological. Excess heat causes discomfort by taxing our capacity to thermoregulate, and this causes irritability and aggression [3].

Exposing skin to sunlight produces vitamin D, promoting the brain’s production of serotonin, which lifts mood. However, the effects of weather on mood are not straightforwardly biological. They are also psychological and social. One reason why heat is associated with aggression is that people interact more in public in hot weather Indeed, the effects of weather on mood depend on our behavior and on how we think [3]. 

The weather essentially has an impact on us just as we expose ourselves to it. Rainy days will be coming and the heat season will be over soon. You need to calm down.

Session Questions: 

  1. Share your experience during the extreme heat in the past weeks. 
  2. How do you think the weather can affect your wellness? 
  3. How do you keep a sound mental health despite the extreme heat?

 

REFERENCES: 

[1] Stoewen, D. (2017).  Dimensions of Wellness: Change Your Habits, Change Your Life. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5508938/

 

[2] Morin, A. (2024). How to Improve Your Psychological Well-being. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/improve-psychological-well-being-4177330 

[3] Haslam, N. (2013). Here comes the sun: how the weather affects our mood. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/here-comes-the-sun-how-the-weather-affects-our-mood-19183#:~:text=Excess%20heat%20causes%20discomfort%20by%20taxing%20our%20capacity,the%20brain%E2%80%99s%20production%20of%20serotonin%2C%20which%20lifts%20mood 

 

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