By Katie Barragry
Picture this. It’s Wednesday morning and your first lecture doesn’t begin until one in the afternoon. You have all the time in the world to make breakfast, have a cup of tea, take a long luxurious shower and spend hours preening yourself in front of the mirror. For the occasion, you’ve blow-dried and straightened your hair followed by a carefully applied face of makeup.
You leave for college with plenty of time to spare. It’s not a bad day out, it’s cold, but the sun is shining. You look half decent and you’re feeling good about yourself. You’ve been walking for about ten minutes when the heavens open out of nowhere. In true Galway fashion, it isn’t even a drizzle or a simple mist. No, it’s a lashing, pelting combination of rain and hail.
Did I think to bring an umbrella? Or wear a jacket with a hood? Or even a hat? Of course not, why would I? It was glorious out seconds ago.
After trudging your way through unavoidable puddles and soggy wet grass, you finally arrive on the Concourse looking like a dejected, drowned rat. Your hair is sopping, your shoes are squelching and you are shivering with self-diagnosed, early-onset pneumonia. Ideal. A great start to your day.
You think about the content, optimistic person you were just five minutes ago in comparison with the bedraggled, poor excuse for a human that is now glaring back at you in the bathroom mirror. Mascara is running down your face, your once pristine hair is now a frizzy,matted mess and you begin to dread the next five hours of sitting in damp clothes in a lecture theatre. Your mood has well and truly deteriorated.
What is about the weather that can instantly change our mental state? Everyone reacts differently to changes in weather, some worse than others. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a state of depression dictated by the change in seasons. It mainly affects people during the winter months when sunlight is limited but is also known to be prevalent during the transition to summer. Those affected by SAD often suffer from low energy levels, severe mood changes, sleeping problems and concentration difficulties.
It is interesting to note how the weather can impact our state of wellbeing. How can you even begin to imagine having a good day after opening your curtains to the doom and gloom of January weather? Alternatively, why do bright sunny mornings make it so much easier for us to jump out of bed, ready to tackle the day? Does the sound of rain hitting off your roof trigger or relax you? And what is it about the humidity that leaves everyone in edge? In Ireland, what excuses us to take a national holiday when the temperature rises above 25 degrees?
For the majority of people, I would imagine that sitting at the Spanish Arch drinking cans in May sounds more appealing than clutching a pint in a dark, cold pub as a brewing storm howls outside. Likewise, playing a football match on soft ground on a sunny afternoon sounds better than being left destroyed head-to-toe in dirt after a disastrous game in the lashing rain. While walking along the beach in November wrapped up in a hat and scarf would surely “blow the cobwebs out,” a relaxing summer’s day at the seaside does sound a bit nicer, doesn’t it?
While the weather evidently can affect our mood and mental state, factors such as geographical location, average temperatures and altitude of an area must also be taken into consideration. However, it is worth soaking up an extra bit of Vitamin D when the opportunity arises. To quote Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.” On the rare occasion that the weather picks up and the sun begins to shine, get up, get out and see if your mood improves.