Rainy Days and Mondays: Why Do We Feel Sad and Depressed?
There are certain days and certain seasons that can lead many people to feel blue and depressed. The Carpenters' song expressed it succinctly saying “rainy days and Mondays always get me down.” But do they really get you down? Can the weather or the season really affect how you feel?
Surprisingly, the weather may not fully be to blame. According to Psychology Today the higher the barometric pressure, the better people sleep. Barometric pressure is usually higher on sunny, non-cloudy days. Then why do we want to sleep on rainy days and often feel depressed?
Light vs. Dark
Rainy days naturally are less light. So this may mix the serotonin signals in our brains. If dark means sleep, then a rainy, gloomy day tends to tell our bodies it is time to rest.
The sound of the rain hitting a roof or window is also like a natural lullaby, encouraging us to relax. In our high-pressure, sleep-deprived world, slowing down may help us realize how tired we really are.
Feelings of depression and tiredness may come from your inability to get outside or the fact that rain makes it harder to get where you are going without getting wet.
Or it could also be the sign of a deeper problem.
Do rainy days, winter days or Mondays make you feel depressed?
If you feel depressed on rainy days, it may be more than just the blues. Laura McMullen of U.S. News says that some people are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder. Seasonal Affective Disorder is most prominent in the winter months where multiple days of cloudiness, rain or snow are experienced.
Light helps your body to produce serotonin, which is your body’s mood enhancer. Sunlight and exercise are great way to increase serotonin. Unfortunately, for many places, both of these are harder to acquire in the winter.
According to McMullen’s research, women are more likely to experience SAD than men. People that live further from the equator are also more likely to have trouble with SAD or winter blues. So, people in Florida are less likely to contend with this type of depression than those that live further north.
Many can remember that lovable, fat, tabby cat, Garfield, and his famous “I Hate Mondays” comics.
There are coffee cups, t-shirts and hats all expressing the sentiment that Monday is the most hated day in the week.
After all, it usually means a return to school and work for millions of people---both places that many people dislike. It means an end to weekend fun, leisure and doing what you want to do. No wonder Mondays are dreaded.
But is it all in our head?
But Is It All In Our Head?
According to New York Times writer Arthur A. Stone, there is strong evidence that we hate Monday because we are supposed to hate Monday.
Arthur cites several studies that show the Monday is not the worst day of the week and only rates marginally less exciting than Fridays for most people.
He notes that the belief in blue Mondays stems from behavioral psychology and our inability to completely remember days or events. He notes that there is a “disconnect between belief and experience.”
Finally Arthur notes that a human reaction to change, and current change at that, tends to affect our ability to asses our own moods and feelings. We think about the change from weekend to work and school routines. Because the two experiences are so different, we may rate the Monday experience more negatively than perhaps we should.
In other words, we don't really hate Mondays. It's all in our heads.
Even if it is all in our heads, we still have those down days.
So what can you do for those rainy, Monday blues? Well, if a move to sunny Florida is out of the question, you can still do little things to boost your mood and help you get through the blues.
If you can’t go outside, find a gym close to you where you can walk on the treadmill or swim laps. There’s nothing like swimming in the middle of winter.
You can also purchase exercise equipment for your home or buy an exercise DVD that you can pop in to motivate you.
Make it something fun that you’ll want to do. The serotonin reward will be worth it.
Sarah Jio of Woman’s Day suggests finding foods that boost your mood.
She notes that salads, eggs, green tea, apples and even a pinch of chocolate are all natural ways to boost your mood and energy.
You should avoid too much caffeine or sugar. While you may feel an immediate boost, the crash later may make these items a bad choice.
Find a way to get a bit of sunshine in your life. If you live in an area that experiences a lot of gloomy days, you might look into purchasing a sun lamp. Before considering such an item, you will want to talk with your doctor and seek their advice and recommendations.
You can also try to take advantage of any sunlight available. Morning light can boost your mood. Even if it is cold, if the sun peeks out, try to find a chance to go outside.
Open the curtains or blinds and sit in the sunlight for a few minutes
It Can Be Serious
If you are feeling very depressed or the depression lasts for several days or week, it is important to seek the advice of a doctor. Depression can be a serious issue. If you think you might be suffering from it, your doctor is your best source for answers and ideas for helping you to feel better.
Don't wait. Seek the help you need to feel better.
Rainy day and Monday blues come to all of us.
Finding ways to cope and overcome will lead to a happier, healthier life.