I have a corner in my home dedicated to monsoon. The leftover unread books, a couch, a footstool and a flask of tea! My concept of a perfect rainy day. But at the same time I need the douse of sunlight to energize me and get my limbs into action!
Human-environmental interactions are fundamental to existence. Change in seasons can have amazing effect on our sense of being and wellness. It is intriguing to see how we perceive and respond to seasonal shifts. While some thoroughly enjoy staying indoors watching the rains wash their windows, others get hounded by gloom and edginess just hearing the showers beat their roof. The prospect of house-arrest panics them and they cannot wait for the sun god to bless them. From mood to food, all are target to the revolutionary movement of earth which brings to us seasons packaged with some enticing deals.
The ‘rise’ and ‘fall’
Seasons follow a striking pattern to characterize our mood and behaviour. We feel seasons the way our brains do. Every body has a unique way of processing change in temperature, humidity, wind, atmospheric pressure and solar radiations. But one thing that stays universal is our psycho-endocrine response to sunlight and temperature. Sunshine is very intimately connected to mood. Exposure to sunlight gets your vitamin D into action that promotes serotonin synthesis, the quintessential mood lifter; concomitantly, reduced exposure triggers release of melatonin and lowers serotonin production that gives you that distinct drowsy feel along with lack of appetite, motivation and sexual desire. So your incessant procrastination to hit the gym during monsoon and winter has its explanation right here! But there is one thing there is a silver lining in the dark clouds.
But, while ample sunlight is lighting up your mood, rising mercury during summer is making you quietly cross the line from animation towards aggression. Temperature is like the guerilla warrior on stealth mode. A little tweak from behind the bush and you are ambushed! A group of volunteers for a neuroendocrine study, experienced lowered memory, reasoning and heightened speed, irritability and aggression when their core body temperatures were raised slightly to 38.80-39.05 degrees C. Well, you couldn’t have had a better excuse to being hot-headed than this! The way climate affects us has its root lying right in the cerebral cortex. Seasonal Affective Disorder is real; a psychological condition taming the most receptive and sensitive of us, if not getting the worst out of us!
When seasons turn sensational
Sensations that provoke excitement and energy are inherently associated with all that the mighty star does to our body. Not just our mood, but also our food choices, intimate habits, and interpersonal interactions change considerably with changing seasons. Would it be surprising to know that people like to flirt more, go on ravishing dates and explore their sexuality just as much they love the aroma of pastries and lavender more on sunny days?
I don’t think there is any one human who wouldn’t have craved for buttery, fried and cheesy foods as cold December waves set in. Your body’s innate mechanism to store fat reserves for insulation against biting cold, summer is just as real a phenomenon. As the winter solstice dips our serotonin, we find ourselves furrowing in our couch drowned in a bowl of soupy gooey macaroni!
When humid and cold atmosphere is inclining you towards reading, cooking and solitude, spring in turn is giving you perfect reasons to wipe the dust off your griller and barbeque skewers and indulge in sumptuous weekend brunch with your besties! Nature knows the tricks to keep us animated and up for the next change, to ensure we brighten up on the sunny times and prepare for the rainy days too!
But this cannot quash the perks of a rainy day. They say the smell of rain or petrichor (atrributed to the earthy aromatic compound geosmin produced by certain bacteria in the slushy soil) can reduce stress by 60% and make you feel all utopic and empathetic. You are twice as more likely to be the agony aunt to your friend on a misty evening over some piping hot coffee than on hot humid days. See there, dark clouds do have a silver lining!
Seasons, mood and food are as umbilically connected as you to your mother. There is no escape! Sunny demeanours, cloudy minds and stormy relationships: the capriciousness of climates has metaphorically ruled our lives! The only external factor that strikes without a sound, (ofcourse except the lightning thunderstorms!) integrates with our gastronomic, psychosocial and interpersonal behaviour to say the least. So when our mothers used to say, “Go out and play”, they already knew their meteoro-psychology subject too well to dispute!