Prerna is a thinker, observer, reader & writer. She is always curious to learn. She is a strong believer in human potential.
Are you someone who loves the feeling of rain droplets touching your cheeks? Or someone who rejoices when it starts raining? Or do you get delightful images of a cozy blanket, a hot beverage, and a book when you hear about rainy days? If so, you are among the mini-community of people known as Pluviophiles.
Yes, Pluviophiles is a term used for rain lovers. Rain- one of the most beautiful forms of nature. After all, who doesn’t like the sound of rain, the aroma of rainy earth, and the coziness it offers?
As earthworms only come out when it rains, the same thing is with rain lovers. (Those who don’t like this creature wouldn’t like this comparison). Anyways, but the point here is rain triggers the energy mood. My husband would fully agree to this when he witnessed my mood as it rained.
Usually, July to September is the month when it rains in India. But this year it got delayed. I am not much of a summer person and hence I was eagerly waiting for the rain to come. Daily I was checking the weather forecast and praying for the rain. In between this struggle I had rapid mood shifts.
One day I was in my normal mood and it rained. As I heard the sound of it a big smile was on my face. My husband didn’t see me smiling this big even on our wedding day. My busy mind was calm now. I was overwhelmed by the warm feeling. My mood was lightened. I felt like rain played lullaby for my mind.
My husband was amazed at how quickly my mood changed? Or can say I was on my best behavior throughout rainy days and even in winters.
But what’s good for one person is often the opposite for another one. I mean for many, rain, wind, thunder, lightning provokes anxiety and depression. While some people enjoy stormy weather more than any perfect sunny day. It goes for every season. Some people become more productive and energetic while some feel anger, lazy and unhappy simultaneously. That means there’s a definite connection between weather and our emotional state.
A condition called SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons. Some people experience depression symptoms during the gloomy winter months or the rainy days.
On the contrary, many people don’t experience SAD in gloomy weather but during the warmer months instead. This emotional state is called ‘Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder’.
Now, let’s understand the science behind how weather affects your mood?
All people face different challenges adapting to a shifting environment e.g. trying to get warm in a cold room, overcoming jet lag faster, etc. Dr. Norman E. Rosenthal explains, “some people with depression in the winter need more light and if they don't get it, this can disturb their internal clock and/or leave them with a deficit of crucial neurotransmitters, like serotonin.”
“A rainy day is a special gift to readers.”
— Amy Miles
Serotonin is the key hormone that stabilizes our mood, feelings of happiness, and well-being.
In the summer, an overload of heat or light similarly disrupts some people's body clock or overwhelms their adaptive mechanisms to deal with the increased stimulus. In either case, you aren't able to rally the protective mechanisms to make you tolerate the change.”
Therefore, it has a lot to do with ultraviolet (UV) light, or the lack of. All living things need sunlight to thrive and sunlight increases serotonin production. Serotonin helps to regulate anxiety, happiness, and mood. So it’s normal to feel a bit down in the dumps on overcast days.
In addition, dim light prompts the pineal gland to produce melatonin, the hormone that regulates circadian rhythms i.e. the 24-hour internal clock. Melatonin levels naturally rise in the evening, helping to start the sleep cycle. Hence, the low light conditions associated with rainy weather can lead to a spike in melatonin, making you feel drowsy.
So, we learned SAD and Reverse SAD exists and how weather affects our mood?
Now, let’s dig into how rain affects positively to some people like me?
How rain affects mental health positively to some people?
Emily Mendez, a mental health writer, and an expert says, Rain has a regular, predictable pattern. Our brain processes it as a calming, non-threatening noise. This is why there are so many relaxation and meditation videos that feature the sound of rain.”
According to a study, odor-evoked memories are more emotional and evocative than memories triggered by our other senses. Dr. Bryan Bruno, medical director at Mid City TMS also says, “Smell is first processed by the olfactory bulb.” This has direct connections to the two brain areas that are most strongly connected to emotion and memory formation.
“Rainy days should be spent at home with a cup of tea and a good book.”
— Bill Watterson
So, in my case rain usually recalls my childhood memories like getting wet in the rain, making paper boats, dancing, playing outside, splashing in big puddles, etc.
How does SAD develop?
This is an interesting idea considering most of us tend to think sunlight is one of the strongest health elixirs we have. After all, study after study shows getting outside more can decrease depression, decrease anxiety, and boost vitamin D levels, thereby improving general health and happiness. "The general concept is sunlight is good and darkness is bad, but that's over-simplistic. We evolved with both the light and the dark, so we need both of these phases of the day to get our clocks working as they should. If you have too much of one or can't adapt to one, then you develop SAD," Dr. Rosenthal explains.
Another psychology professor Kathryn Roecklein, who studies circadian rhythms(24-hour internal clock) and affective disorders, put forth a slightly different interpretation of the condition: "There's a theory of depression which suggests when you are unable to participate in the activities you normally enjoy, you receive less reward from your environment. The way we understand summer SAD is that it may follow the same reasoning: If the weather is so hot it prevents you from engaging in activities you enjoy, like running outside or gardening, then missing that reward can cause seasonal depression."
Advice from psychologists and psychiatrists -
* When it rains and you get sad, try not to lie down or daydream by the window. Better, get up and do fun things.
* If you have SAD although it's tempting to turn off the lights but make the choice not to. At the very least, keep the lights on and don't cover your blinds.
* Make sure to walk outside even if it doesn't seem that bright, you'll still get UV exposure, which can help regulate the body's circadian rhythm and improve mood.
* Stay active even though it's raining. Whether it's watching comedy movies, making crafts, listening to cheerful music, or reading books.
* Exercise at home to increase endorphins, which can have a positive effect on mood.
Well, everybody will be going to have different opinions on different kinds of weather. But now you know the science behind it and why you feel that way.
- If you have severe SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) or Reverse SAD please take medical help.
Let me know which is your favorite season?
“Share your story in the comments.”
© 2021 Prerna Dhulekar
Prerna Dhulekar (author) from Pune on August 09, 2021:
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 05, 2021:
We haven't had rain for 52 straight days so, right now, rain would make us all very happy. :)