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When you look outside the window and observe a gloomy, dreary day, do you feel sad or tired? Do you have a hard time concentrating in school on rainy, murky days? For many of us in the United States, winter represents three months of grey skies and snowy cold weather where we stay indoors most of the time. Is it necessarily true that bleak days cause us to be melancholy and unable to focus, or is this just sheer coincidence? Doctors have found evidence that the weather affects not only our mood, but our ability to concentrate as well.

Day to day or even seasonal moods can be influenced by the weather. According to John Grohol, who founded Psych Central, “...researchers found that nearly one-third of the girls and one fifth of the boys responded negatively to certain weather conditions. Symptoms reported included poor sleep, irritability, and depressed mood.” Oftentimes during the winter and rainy days, we feel several negative emotions such as boredom, exhaustion, and stress. You just want to go back to bed and hide under a cozy blanket from lack of energy or motivation. During the summer or on sunny days, however, you tend to feel a sense of happiness and be more energetic. When I see the sun’s vibrant light shining on the grass, I find that I feel cheerful. Perhaps I would pack a picnic lunch, take a long walk in the woods, or even water the garden. Everything is blissful.

Another effect of gloomy weather is poor concentration. We tend not to pay attention as well on those dreary, stormy days as we do when it is serene. John Grohol introduced research conducted by Thomas Keller and his colleagues which showed that “pleasant weather (higher temperature or barometric pressure) was related to higher mood, better memory, and ‘broadened’ cognitive style during the spring as time spent outside increased.” On dismal days, you may feel distracted in school, reading the same passage over and over again, and just be uninterested in the subject at hand. I myself sometimes feel fatigued during the short, dark days of winter and as a result, it is challenging for me to focus.

Don’t be alarmed when you hear news of bad weather coming your way. If you feel tired or unfocused during a blustery, cold day, it is probably a temporary or short-lived effect. Perhaps a short nap or some exercise will make you feel better. So next time you ask yourself, “Why am I so tired? Why can’t I complete this school assignment?”, it may be true that “It’s just the weather!”

Bibliography:
Grohol, John. “Weather Can Change Your Mood.” Psych Central. http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2008/11/09/weather-can-change-your-mood/ (12 Jan 2012)





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