It may be cold outside, but the sun still shines. To remind us about those sunny days, and for those luck enough to be be visiting sunny destinations, our very own ray of sunshine, Hayley, has some thoughts on how sunyshine affects our behaviour.
I think we can all agree that we have had some great weather over the summer period and its still continuing into autumn and winter. Some of us love this weather and some of us could do without it being so warm! This got me thinking about how the sun affects us all in different ways and if it changes the way we behave.
Research has shown that the sun can boost positive moods, dampen negative moods and diminish tiredness. Exposing skin to sunlight produces vitamin D, promoting the brain’s production of serotonin, which lifts mood. It makes people want to be active and be at one with nature with a lot of people choosing to go to parks or nature reserves with picnics or take nice long walks with dogs. Bars and restaurants become a lot more popular with families and studies have shown that customers will tip more generously when the sun is out.
Psychologists have also found that a lot more relationships are made in the summer with singletons making more effort to socialise whilst out having fun in the sun. In another study psychologists have found that our brains are a lot sharper and we can remember seven times more than what we can when its cloudy.
If this is correct and the sun has a positive effect on us, why do some people hate the sun and make us act negatively to one another?
Humidity tends to make people more tired and irritable. Barometric pressure fluctuations can alter moods and trigger headaches. On rainy days people report lower satisfaction with their lives.
One possibility is that the effects of weather on mood are primarily physiological. Excess heat causes discomfort by stopping our bodies from naturally cooling down and this causes irritability and aggression towards other people. One reason why heat is associated with aggression is that people interact more in public in hot weather.
An American psychologist showed that beneficial effects of warm and sunny conditions on mood were only seen in people who had spent more than 30 minutes outdoors that day. Good weather even had negative effects on mood for people confined indoors, who perhaps gazed enviously outside at the solar fun they were missing.
So concluding I think that as long as we are careful in the sun, we make sure that we are very hydrated with possible breaks in the shade then we can all enjoy the sun in a better and happier mood.
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