Large snowflakes plummeted from the sky onto the green grass, held fast for a few hours, and then melted.
When I walked out of the school building and into the chilled air, the remnants of our May snow shower remained in small patches across the ground and in the crevices of vehicles.
In January, I hoped for a long cold spell that would break, let the warm summer air in and block out the cold for a good five months. I was grateful for the sustained cold and even more grateful for the break, but the possibility I willfully ignored was that Mother Nature would rain some May snow showers on our parade of would-be/could-be May flowers — until today.
The general consensus at the school among staff and students revealed itself in scowls and drooped shoulders when we each realized the rain we expected had been swooped up and spit back out in large crystalized, heavy, fast-falling flakes. In short, we were disappointed.
One reason for our disappointment may be that winter weather and dreary days are known to affect people’s moods.
“Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a well-documented phenomenon which occurs in conjunction with changes in season,” according to StrategicPsychology.com.
“Tecsia Evans, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in private practice in San Francisco (where it rains 67 days a year, on average), says, ‘When it gets dark and dreary out, some people definitely have more susceptibility to feeling lonely or down. It’s pretty common to see a change in mood — such as feeling sadness or lower self-esteem — when it’s rainy outside,’” in an article about how rain impacts mood on WebMD.com.
So, while moods were higher when the sun was shining and winter appeared to have tucked itself into a cold cave somewhere for the summer, moods have likely dropped as precipitation accumulates even in small piles on the pathways we travel each day.
Coping with this cold and flakey onset can be difficult, but like with all forms of depression, the best medicine is to create bright spots in otherwise dreary days — literally, turn on all the lights.
While there is apparently no hard-core scientific evidence to prove this to be true, it is widely thought that sunlight impacts the body in the following ways (according to StrategicPsychology.com, and repeated on WebMD and multiple other health websites):
Reduced sunlight can affect the body’s circadian rhythms (internal body clock), which can lead to feelings of depression.
Reduction in exposure to sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin levels, which can lead to feelings of depression. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that affects mood.
Disruptions to melatonin (a type of hormone) levels, can affect sleeping patterns and mood.
So, if we must endure any more of these rainy, or rainy turn flake-fest days this spring, when you can, go to the light and let it shine on you in whatever way you can.
For my house, that may mean not only turning on my house lights, but also opening up the windows to allow even the light of a dreary day to enter.
Another method for coping with SAD, or any form of depression, is to exercise. Physical activity, according to Lakshmy Nair on Livestrong.com, “promotes the generation and release of endorphins, while reducing the activity of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which promote feelings of anxiety and tension. Regular exercise can help you attain a happier state of mind and a better quality of life.”
As I cope with my own frustrations and the stress of end of the school year business, I plan to heed this advice. I exercise regularly — usually with a friend so that we can motivate each other and avoid skipping out on too many days.
My aging eyes force me to turn on the lights more often and in brighter measures than I ever did as a young woman, so I have that covered too.
Quite frankly, my age and experience make coping with depressing weather days much easier than it ever was for me in the past, and that ability helps me help younger people deal with the dreary weather better too.
Meanwhile, let’s all pray for sunshine and 70 degrees over the next few weeks. I am ready for my shorts and sandals. Can I get an Amen!?