Does good weather actually make us happier?

What the weather does to our health
Does good weather actually make us happier?

Summertime and the living is easy. Warmer temperatures and long sunny days, you either hate or love this time of year. One thing is for sure, you feel an effect in your wellbeing, right? Is this it just a placebo, or are there actual affects that the weather has to our mental and physical health? Let’s dive into seasonal feelings.

The effects of the sun and warm weather on our mind and body

laying bed

Does the sun make you feel happier?

In a way, yes! Sunlight helps to produce more serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical in our brain that helps with our mood. Being in the sun leads to higher serotonin levels, and therefore improving your mood and well-being. An Australian study concluded that sunlight produces higher serotonin levels, no matter the temperature, as long as the sun is shining!

Sunny vitamines

Another benefit of the sun is vitamin D. An Norwegian study (2011) found that people who have low levels of Vitamin D are more associated with depression. No matter age, lifestyle and general health. On dark gloomy days, taking vitamins can be a good boost. The best way to take in your vitamin D levels is by being in the sun. Even 15 minutes a day makes a big difference.

Summer activities

When the sun is out you are more active. The days are longer and the temperatures pleasant, so you are more likely to be outdoors. Walks in nature,  cycling, skating, or just terrace hopping! The summer season gives us many options to move our body. This strengthens our body making us healthier. Exercise helps with dopamine, you know, the chemical in our brain that makes us feel good!

Let’s not forget how important social interactions are for us human beings. On average, people tend to spend more time with others when the sun is out. It is in our blueprint to be with other people to survive and thrive, being the social species that we are. Therefore, hanging  out and interacting out with friends, family, coworkers, or random people, makes us feel happier. Thank you sun!

Feeling less energetic in winter?

This could be due to cold temperatures and lack of sunlight. Feeling cold signals the body to unwind and hibernate, resulting in less energy during the winter months. Your body needs more energy at that time to keep itself warm. Warmer temperatures can boost your energy and mood, but only up to a point. If it is too hot, you may become languid and feel the urge to escape the heat.

The sun is a natural clock. Your circadian clock, the one built into your body, responds to the light. When it is dark, it is time to sleep. So the longer it is bright outside, the longer you feel energized. If it’s a cloudy dark day, you can might feel tired because of the lack of natural light.

Seasonal depression

Have you heard of the winter blues? This condition is described by Dr. Normal Rosenthal at Georgetown University as seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. The lack of natural light and the colder temperatures cause people to suffer from depression in those dark winter months. Read more about it in our blog about Blue Monday here.

What is the perfect weather for human beings?

One study from NASA, all the way back in the 1960’s, found that the ideal temperature for a naked human is 31 degrees Celsius. At this temperature they found, your body does not need to use its energy to keep itself warm or cool. They performed these experiments in an environment where the humidity was controlled, and the test objects were at rest. Soon after, it was found that there are so many factors that come in play, that it is hard to have a specific number about the ideal weather for humans.

everyone is happy in a field of sunflowers

What is the key factor of weather and happiness?

The way we perceive weather is what mostly influences our happiness. Individual differences, personal preferences, and cultural backgrounds play a significant role in shaping our emotional response to weather conditions. For example, someone who enjoys outdoor activities may experience increased happiness on a sunny day, while another person who finds comfort in staying indoors might feel happier during rainy weather.

Are you summertime fine or do you experience some summertime sadness? One thing to remember when the sun is out, is to protect your biggest organ: your skin! Spread that sunblock and enjoy the UV-filled days with caution!