It's hard not to feel gloomy once Fall rolls around in New York City. All the leaves are brown, the clouds loom, and everyone seems more in a rush than usual. All of these changes leave us feeling a bit unsettled with the state of things - whether it's our love life, our careers, or how we feel about ourselves. The question is - does weather really affect our brains that largely? According to a study by Jaap Denissen about the effects of weather on daily mood, there was a surprising discovery that there's little basis on the fact that it does. However, what his studies did show "was that the association between sunlight and tiredness was significant. The less sunlight people were exposed to, the more they exhibited depression-like symptoms." These depression-like symptoms vary for everyone, but it may revolve around feeling slow and lethargic, difficulty rising in the morning when it is dark outside, and eventual weight gain caused by eating the carbohydrate-rich foods we crave.
So how do we keep the blues away? The answer may lie in a self-care routine that's unique to you. If you are not familiar with the concept of self-care, it is "any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Although it's a simple concept in theory, it's something we very often overlook," according to Psych Central. Creating a list of things that refuel you is a necessary beginning step towards developing a healthy and positive attitude. This obviously varies person to person, so it's important for you to sit and think about the activities that lead you to feeling recharged after you do them.
In my case, keeping the blues away usually involves a good playlist and a hot bath. I often quote Sylvia Plath on it's sheer importance - "There must be quite a few things that a hot bath won't cure, but I don't know many of them." There is something that leads you to feeling your most complete self in the bath, along with a well-curated mix of songs that take you to simpler times. Music is a well-known component of one's mood and how it effects your ability to cope with the certain type of sadness that comes with rainy days.
Another big component of the blues? Believe it or not - social media. When you're feeling down, it's important to stay off Facebook. According to Mark's Psychiatry, "The "Facebook blues" appear to be a universal and worldwide phenomenon. A recently published analysis of more than a billion Facebook status updates found that positive posts lead to more positive posts and negative posts generate more negative posts." Not surprisingly, weather seems to play a big part in how we perceive social media posts. "Every message that you post causes your friends to post an additional one to two messages that have the same emotional content," study author James Fowler, professor of medical genetics and political science at the University of California-San Diego School of Medicine, explained to the Los Angeles Times.
This rainy day season, consider staying in to take a hot bath along with your favorite Leonard Cohen record. You'd be surprised at the wonders it could do.