New Englanders are starting to feel it. It is getting cooler, the days are getting shorter. Though the Autumnal Equinox is more than a week away, we can already feel its effects, especially when we wake up to darkness in the morning. Some find it sad, beautiful, melancholy. Some feel a sense of loss, even death. Rain makes us sad; cold weather makes us hunker down and hibernate. We dress in dark colors and talk about things like the inevitability of change and senescence (the process of deterioration with age) and get generally Goth in our attitude.
Others find Autumn exhilarating. We’ve been fueling up all summer, filling our tanks with sunshine and fresh air. We are raring to go. Autumn leaves? Bring it! Apple cider donuts? Pumpkin spice lattes? Bring it! “Drivers, start your engines!”
Besides food and fashion choices, what’s the difference between those who dread and those who celebrate Autumn? PsychCentral.com, a clearing house for research and commentary on everything in the world of psychology, tells us that we have a Weather Personality Type. Who knew?
Scientists! A December 2011 study conducted in western Europe looked at three major weather conditions: amount of sunshine, daily temperature averages, and daily precipitation. It found links to three important mood indicators: happiness, anxiety, anger. The study also found that 48% of its participants were completely unaffected by weather whereas 52% were significantly affected. “The scientists characterized four groups of people which they labelled Summer Lovers, Summer Haters, Rain Haters and Unaffected.” (http://www.currentresults.com/Weather-Science/4-weather-mood-personality-types.php) The study found that moods rose and fell significantly based on the relationship between the weather a person’s weather personality type.
Science has certainly found correlations between sunlight and health (seasonal affective disorder is real). Generally speaking, we are more fatigued and phlegmatic without sunshine. This is due in part to our absorption of Vitamin D from sunlight. Vitamin D controls the brain’s serotonin, a hormonal mood regulator.
Our dark, droopiness is physiological; it’s also psychological. Exposure to sunlight, proper nutrients, and a healthy diet of fresh foods will take care of the physiology. Determination, attitude, and a good strategy can sway the psychology.
Here are a few strategies to keep your awesome going all autumn long (and even into winter):
Seize the day
Get up as soon as the alarm rings. Start your day with exercise, yoga, mindfulness. Make a gratitude list; make plans. Eat a high-protein breakfast.
Boost your health
Cut down on sugars and processed foods. Exercise more, exercise with a friend – good companionship and good exercise work together synergistically.
Go to the edge
Do something new. Try something that scares you just a little bit. Learn a new language or a new skill, it will increase your brain’s gray matter.
Shine the light
Open the curtains! Get outside! When you can’t get outdoors, or if the sun isn’t shining, turn on a full-spectrum lamp, use a dawn simulator.
Follow your passion
On paper, this sounds like so much pablum. But look at it logically: if you spend more time doing what you makes you happy, you’ll be spending more time doing what makes you happy. Try it.