– Richard Voisey, Nwes Business Consultant
‘At last’ I might hear you say. Following the long dark winter with its sting in the tail provided by the ‘beast from the east’ and the damp squib we called Easter, we have been treated to an early bout of unusually warm weather, with the hottest April day in 70 years recorded at the weekend. Now the rain is pouring down once again and the sun is disappearing.
This got me thinking about how the weather changes our moods. At the start of the month, the UK was full to the brim with bottled up energy, desperate folk itching to start spring cleaning their properties, wishing to attack their gardens and hatching their cunning plans which may have been mapped out over the dark, winter months. So, this lead me to think that the weather will probably have a major impact on your business plans.
There are scientific reasons why the weather effects our mood swings, however, the way it does may not be so obvious. Having a greater knowledge of the effects gives us the chance to adapt our minds and bodies accordingly through the changing seasons.
Changes in Habit
Why when the nights draw in, beyond the issue of the cold and darkness, do we head spend more time watching films, eat a takeaway and drinking red wine? Why on a rainy day are we more likely to contemplate quitting our job or giving it one more press of the snooze button? Apparently, we are more likely to consume additional calories when faced with precipitation. When summer turns to winter, salads are more likely to be replaced by puddings.
Lack of Sunlight
A reduction in exposure to sunlight might cause you season affective disorder or SAD. This usually affects people from October through April when daylight becomes scarcer. Chemical change takes place in your body. When exposed to less sunlight, your body produces more melatonin, the hormone which makes you feel sleepy. And just as your body begins craving mid-day naps, your brain begins producing lower levels of serotonin — the neurotransmitter that affects mood, appetite, sleep, and sexual desire. Simply put, SAD can make you feel sad.
To combat SAD, consider putting your bedroom lights on a timer so they come on before you wake, giving your brain the illusion of a sunrise. No timer on hand? Look into purchasing a light therapy box for year round sunshine. Take advantage of any bright days available and get into the fresh air where possible.
Consider your working environment and for your staff and customers. Colour schemes are also important. Yellow are vibrant and helpful for creativity and stimulate energy. Greens are cool, helps to reduce the onset of tiredness and lowers anxiety. Blue is calming and relaxed. White creates spaciousness.
Researchers suggest that exposure to sunlight is associated with higher levels of spending. Since sunshine makes us feel more positive, consequently, it also causes us to potentially shop more. Make sure you stick to your business shopping list and work within your prepared budgets.
Cold temperatures reduce sensory feedback, dexterity, muscle strength, blood flow, and balance, which can impact your performance of both complex physical and mental tasks. Does that initial morning chill leave you feeling completely unmotivated to hit the gym or do anything physical?
Make it a habit to pile on the layers and do 15 minutes of stretching first thing in the morning. The added warmth and movement will stimulate blood flow. Don’t just go from your bed to the car and then to the desk. Physical activity, which could be a short but brisk walk will energise your brain and you achieve more.
The lack of sunlight associated with rainy days can cause serotonin levels to dip, and as serotonin levels decrease, carbohydrate cravings increase. Eating carbohydrates helps depressed individuals feel better because the carbs spark an immediate serotonin increase. But that happiness spike is short-lived, as serotonin levels drop shortly thereafter.
As atmospheric pressure decreases, clouds and rain become much more likely, just tap your barometer to see the effect. This reduction in atmospheric pressure allows bodily fluids to move from blood vessels to tissues, causing pressure on the nerves and joints, which leads to increased pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility. So, if you see rain in your forecast, ditch the cardio and go straight to yoga — your knees and shoulders will thank you later.
Instead of pasta, reach for starchy vegetables like parsnips, potatoes, or pumpkin — just as comforting with great sources for added vitamins, minerals, and fibre.
If rain is in your forecast and exercise is on your menu, switch cardio activity and participate in yoga or palates, your knees and shoulders will thank you later.
The Great Outdoors
Researchers have found that people who spent at least 30 minutes outside during periods of pleasant weather reported improved mood, memory, and openness to new information and creative thoughts. Avoid taking lunchbreaks at your desk.
Even if it’s cold outside, if you see the sun shining make it a point to get up from your desk and take a brisk 30-minute walk during your lunch break. You will find that your afternoons will become increasingly more productive.