By Rod Moser, PA, PhD
Well, the weather certainly affects my mood. When I lived in the tundra of Michigan, I quickly got to the point where I’d had enough snow, wind, and slush. I was ready for some warm weather and sun, but the climate was not cooperating. Making the transition from California to Michigan was very difficult for me, even though I was raised in Pennsylvania with a similar climate. Once you are spoiled by the mild California seasons, it is hard to re-adapt to those perpetual winters again.
As often happens, our area of Northern California started out the winter season with no winter whatsoever. It remained warm and dry. Knowing this would be the hallmark of a fire season, everyone prayed for rain. Prayers were answered, so now we have to get the rain to stop somehow.
The last storm knocked down three of my once-stately oak trees. Yesterday, an even bigger and wetter storm blew into town. I have not driven in a storm this bad for many years: the kind of storm that makes you pull to the side of the road and wait. Fortunately, I made it to work safely, just in time to see people who were injured in traffic accidents.
Last weekend, the weather was in the mid-seventies, so I just had to go out and get dirty. I sat on the driveway and used my one good arm to weed the planter areas.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) may be real, since many people experience sadness and depression when the “sun don’t shine”. I can’t say that I am depressed or even sad, but I do not like cold, rainy weather or serious snow storms. I am happiest and most content when the weather is warm (hot, even).
I think maybe it should be called Regional Affective Disorder (RAD) or perhaps Regional Oppositional Disorder (ROD – named after me!). Many people in Michigan love the snow, so they were actually happier when the weather changed. No grass-mowing. Time to get out the snowmobiles and get ready for deer-hunting season. The reason why I was sad had nothing to do with the weather, or the season. I was just opposed to winter (and killing deer).
I watched a National Geographic special that showed footage of Inuit children playing in the remotest part of northern Alaska. They are not the least-bit sad. As a matter of fact, they are among the happiest children I have seen, playing soccer on ice in near darkness.
When the sun does not shine outside, we can certainly learn to feel the warmth inside. Life is full of things that adversely affect our mood, but life is also filled with zillions of little things every day that can make us feel warm and happy inside. Granted, there are down days when you really have to look for those happy things, but they are there. It was cold today in the Sierra Foothills, but it did not snow. Flowers are blooming and birds are singing. I smiled.
The sun will surely come out again; perhaps tomorrow.