Have you noticed that you feel more upbeat on sunny days and that your mood tends to darken on cloudy days? Conventional wisdom suggested that there was a direct relationship between cheerful moods and sunshine, but a study presented at the Royal Economic Society’s annual conference turns that notion on its head.
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Keep reading to learn more about that discovery, as well as some positive things about sunshine that could keep you healthier, even if the bright days don’t necessarily boost your mood.
A Scientist Scrutinizes Weather Data
Dr. Franz Buscher of the University of Westminster reviewed nearly two decades of weather-related data and self-reported descriptions of wellbeing to determine whether people felt happier on sunny days. Many individuals were surprised to hear that Buscher concluded there is no link between weather patterns and how happy people feel.
People Don’t Like Their Jobs As Much On Sunny Days
During Buscher’s research, he found a significant relationship between weather patterns and the amount of satisfaction people had with their jobs. When the days were sunnier, people were less satisfied with their jobs. Naturally, this is likely because they’d rather have been outside than confined to their desks indoors, and Buscher clarified that the connection he found between job satisfaction and sunny days was minimal. Regardless, rather than being happier with their work on a sunny day, as our understanding of weather relating to mood suggests, people were generally more miserable on glorious days.
Short-term Fluctuations In Weather Are Not Problematic
Buscher also challenged the theory that long-term dreary weather causes depression. In this particular portion of his study, Buscher looked at households in the United Kingdom. After examining the data, Buscher said people in this region of the world are especially resilient when it comes to taking short-term weather variations in stride and said short-term variations do not affect their moods. For the purposes of this study, “short-term” was defined as a type of weather lasting anywhere from one to five days. Suffice to say, a week of rain in the UK did not significantly depress a majority of its residents as one might think.
In fact, Buscher does not believe that the individuals from his study would find themselves directly, adversely affected by global weather events any more than the local events with which they would normally contend. Although a weather-related tragedy somewhere else in the world might temporarily depress an unaffected party, Buscher felt there was no significant evidence to support that the mood in a household in the United Kingdom would be indirectly affected by a long-term dreary weather phenomenon occurring elsewhere.
Benefits Of Sunshine
If you take into account the findings of Buscher’s study, perhaps sunshine isn’t as amazing as was initially thought for making people happier, but that doesn’t mean it’s entirely without merit in regard to overall health. For example, the vitamin D that a person receives via sun exposure boosts the immune system by promoting proper function of the body’s T cells. Sunshine also has a therapeutic effect on stress levels and may lower blood pressure as effectively as medication.
Some people also believe that spending time in the sun speeds up metabolism and can stimulate the fat burning process. Although it’s not clear exactly why that happens, one theory is that if people spend too much time indoors and out of the sunlight, the body is tricked into thinking it’s winter, or in other words, a time where storing up fat might be necessary for survival.
It’s important to realize the study you’ve just learned about that suggested brighter days don’t lead to better moods is one of many that have examined the topic. There are others that indicate sunlight exposure encourages the body to produce more serotonin, which not only improves mood but also positively affects appetite, sleep patterns and memory. As such, it certainly appears that sunny days have wonderful benefits of which we should all enjoy, regardless of Buscher’s finding.
No matter how much stock you put into the potential benefits of sun exposure, don’t forget to slather on the sunblock. One fact that most scientists agree upon is that sunlight exposure without protection causes skin cancer and premature aging, and that’s enough to dampen anyone’s mood!