2009-07-31 / Columnists

Health & Harmony

Weather Dictates Mood
Commentary By Dr. Nancy Gahles

DR. NANCY GAHLES DR. NANCY GAHLES Why is it that we seem to be in a better mood when the weather is warm and sunny? A University of Colorado study recently found that sunny days and warm weather boost mood and have an effect on cognition that opens the mind to new ideas. It appears that light and the heat it generates favorably impact the human mind and body. As the temperature rises, we venture outdoors more often and stay out for longer periods of time. The vitamin D that we get from exposure to sunlight is known to elevate immune function. The socialization that is part of outdoor activities is known to protect heart function. The exercise we get when outdoors is a given to increase stamina, flexibility and prevent chronic disease.

Extremes in temperature, even heat, however, can have negative effects. According to research in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1997, the rates of serious and deadly assaults were higher during hotter years. It is suggested that uncomfortably high temperatures increase annoyance-provoked crimes, that is, those whose intent is to harm someone. Crimes like burglary where the motive is money did not increase during hotter years.

"Hot headed" is the term we use to depict the person who flies off the handle in a rage at the slightest offense, perceived or real. Tempers are said to "flare" when one is too hot, especially when in close quarters. And we all may be familiar with the rage that accompanies "hot flashes".

Extremes is the key word here. Immoderate behavior occurs in cold weather as well. "Snow rage" is a term that began to be used in Canada in March, 2008 when they had more than 16 feet of snow. Catherine Viel, spokesperson for the Quebec City Police, said, "During that month we had several incidents— 911 calls, a guy punching a neighbor in the face over a few shovelsful of snow, a man who threatened his neighbor with a 12-gauge shotgun because someone had blown snow onto his lawn."

This season we have been experiencing extremes of temperature during each day. Hot, sunny, humid and then suddenly appearing dark clouds with a downpour of rain often accompanied by thunder and lightning. The suddenness is often disconcerting and creates panic in many people. Anticipation anxiety is apparent in those packing for a day at the beach and not knowing how the weather will hold up for them. Tempers seem to be short when planned events such as BBQ's or other outdoor parties have to be changed due to inclement weather.

The vacillating temperatures also wreak havoc on the joints in our body as they expand and contract in response to the environment. Pain and oversensitivity contribute to mood changes which seem to vacillate along with the temperature.

It is obvious that we, as human beings, are part of nature. We are an integral, connected part of this dynamic, living Universe. That being said, it is incumbent upon us to be a team player. That means that we go with the flow. We adapt. A fine concept! Adaptation. This, I cannot take credit for. It is an observable scientific fact that every creature on earth adapts, over time, to their environment. Those of higher consciousness have the ability to make minor, quick adaptations, such as subtle mood changes, in order to "right' themselves in the face of an extreme weather change, for instance.

Higher consciousness means that we are aware, in the present moment, and have knowledge about our own selves. We know where our sensitivities lie. We know what makes us sick and what makes us tick. The old saying "Forewarned is forearmed" is apropos here. We have all the technology at our hand to predict the weather. We can use our foresight to remember those temperatures that affect us directly. We can plan for eventualities and take precautions to protect ourselves and others from the unwanted consequences.

In short, we are in charge of ourselves and have a responsibility to steward ourselves through life in the easiest, most comprehensible way. All it takes is awareness. Each day, when you awaken, take note of how you feel. Look out the window and get a sense of the weather for the day. Tune in to the weather channel if you need to get a full understanding of the day or the whole week ahead. Prepare yourself according to your sensitivities.

You needn't drive yourself or anyone else crazy when you are in charge of your own self regardless of the external environment. If you find the conditions intolerable, plan a vacation or a weekend getaway to a location that has the climate that is comfortable for you. "Failure to plan is planning to fail" as Ben Franklin said. In this way, you no longer use the weather as a scapegoat for your ills. More importantly, you empower yourself to cope, or adapt, to the extremes in life, whatever form they take.

Self awareness, higher consciousness, informed decision making, freedom of choice. AHHH! It feels like a spring day to me! The one that stimulates creation of new ideas and provides the fuel to manifest them.

May The Blessings Be!

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