How the seasons impact your thinking

The cold and cloudy weather might be affecting you more than you think.

Do you think the seasons affect how you think? Do you ever find yourself short-tempered in long stretches of undesirable, dark and dreary seasons? Well, if you do, you’re not the only one! Gilles Vandewalle, a research associate at the University of Liege in Belgium performed a study on 28 adults and found that most of his clients could think more clearly during a season they enjoyed. Vandewalle determined that people who had seasonal affective disorder (depression during certain seasons) experienced intellectual challenges. By taking certain steps, Michigan State University Extension believes you can help relieve the effects of seasonal affective disorder and maintain mental health throughout every season.

Vanderwalle used brain scans to study his participants and found they paid more attention to what needed to be accomplished and remembered things better during the more desirable months. He discovered that when most of us don’t want to go outside due to cold, or cloudy weather, not only do we have seasonal affective disorder, but most of us will also find it additionally challenging thinking clearly. Vandewalle also believes seasons affect our hormones, immune system and neurotransmitters.

Although Vandewalle had only 28 participants in his study, due to our long Michigan winters each of us probably knows many people that struggle during the cloudy, damp and cold weather. Many of our family members and friends can become moody. Do you during this time?

According to Mayo Clinic, Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) begins and ends at about the same times every year. Generally, SAD begins in the fall and continues through the winter months sapping energy and creating moodiness. You need to take steps to keep your mood and motivation steady throughout the year. Some activities might be:

  • Crafts
  • Home indoor projects
  • Reading
  • Socializing with friends
  • Taking a class

Many people use light therapy to help tolerate the ‘blues’ during winter. Light therapy is used quite often to treat seasonal depression. During this type of therapy, one sits or works near a light therapy box which mimics natural outdoor light. This affects brain chemistry, which is linked to moods. Light therapy boxes or lights can be purchased over the counter at various drug stores.

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