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December 11, 2017

Weather affecting mood?

Today, in Amherst, the weather is a cool 48 degrees and slightly cloudy. People in Key West, Fla. are enjoying a sunny 75 degree day. Which would you prefer? I am sure that they majority of you would choose Key West. In general, sunnier, warmer weather has a positive affect on a person’s mood and colder, cloudier weather has a negative affect. Some can develop Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as fall-winter onset and a spring-summer remission.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is thought to have a direct relationship to weather. It actually does not; SAD appears in people when the seasons change. It is a rare disorder and is thought to be related to the body’s temperature and hormone regulation. It is known to occur more with women than men. People with this disorder experience depression with fall or winter onset. They may gain weight and have a lessened drive to do anything. SAD can be treated with light therapy. Most people with the “winter blahs” or cabin fever do not have SAD.

Many believe that weather affects mood, but this is not necessarily true. According to Mathew Keller, a University of Michigan post-doctoral researcher, “Everyone thinks weather affects mood, but the biggest tests of this theory in 2000 found no relationship, so we went back and found there are two important variables: how much time you spend outside and what the season is. If you go from winter to spring and spend enough time outside, there’s a noticeable change (www.sciencedaily.com).”

Keller and his colleagues collected and analyzed information from many different studies, in order to further investigate this theory. He found that the perfect temperature for Americans was about seventy-two degrees. Also in his findings, he discovered that people must spend at least 30 minutes outside in nice weather for their mood to actually increase.

Seeing spring is around the corner, it is important for people, especially college kids, to make an everyday attempt to go outside for at least a 30-minute period. Doing this can help your overall health by “improving mood, memory and broadening cognitive style (Keller).” The University of Michigan also found that by staying indoors, while the weather outside is nice, may actually decrease mood and cognitive ability (sciencedaily.com).

Being a college student at a large populated university, I see thousands of people everyday. Not only do I see them, I see the emotions and moods that they wear on their sleeves. It’s noticeable that spring is bringing out better moods in people. After talking to a few people, they also agreed that the nice weather has made them noticeably happier. I asked Kevin Kelleher, a friend of mine, how weather has affected him? “The sun gives me initiative to do things. I wake up in a better mood and look forward to getting outside.” Kevin simply replied.

This winter has been an extremely long one and with spring finally arriving, people are smiling more and have more interest to do work and go to classes. Although Mathew Keller believes that there in no direct relationship with weather affecting mood, I believe that just by the sun being out, moods are boosted. Weather does play a role in determining mood. Although it might not be as direct as some think, it is definitely there.Joshua Stephens is a UMass student.

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