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More Sun in Missoula, Please

Green grass and sunshine: is that so much to ask? (Photo courtesy of nshontz/Flickr)

Shakespeare often used weather as a metaphor in his plays, with violent storms representing instability and unrest. (See, I did learn something in college.)

In real life, I have found that the weather often mirrors my mood — or is it the other way around?

This was particularly noticeable during the blast of sunshine we experienced at the beginning of the week. After last week’s icky mix of snow, sleet and wind, bright sunlight came as a welcome change. Only after my mood lifted did I realize how depressed I was feeling before.

When I woke up Wednesday morning to another cloudy, dreary day, I couldn’t help but notice that there was a little less spring in my step compared to the previous morning.

Although I will admit that I can get kind of cranky around this time of year (will it EVER be warm again?), I have never thought of myself as having a “real” condition such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

And according to an article I recently stumbled on, there might be less of a connection between emotion and weather than doctors previously thought — scientifically speaking, at least. A European study performed in 2008 suggested that the connection between happiness and good weather is weaker than most people think, and that a person’s emotional state is a result of a smorgasbord of combining factors.

Still, as far as biology goes, the physiological impact of weather — particularly sunlight — is pretty clear. Exposure to sun raises the body’s levels of mood-enhancing serotonin, while darkness signals the release of sleep-inducing melatonin.

So after several days of melatonin build-up, I guess it’s no surprise that I felt alive, alert and awake when I finally saw the sun. Now, if it would only warm up enough for a game of ultimate Frisbee…

Brooke is a 2010 graduate of The University of Montana, where she ran track and cross country for the Grizzlies. She is currently working as a writer and editor in Missoula.

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