Mood hiker

Connections between the weather and how our feelings change

Drawing and text by Frits Ahlefeldt, Hiking.org

Drawing of a girl with mood that change like the weather
Our moods have more to do with the patterns of change and how we adapt, than the actual weather

there is not much doubt about that the weather can influence our moods. But exactly how is not so clear. You can feel great in a storm, uplifted and clear-minded in thick fog and depressed under a blue sky. It could be that the changes in weather is more important than the weather itself

In our language we use the weather all the time to describe how we and others feel, from a hurricane, to stormy thundercloud and all the way  to bright sunshine and that give an idea about how we believe to be somehow connected  to the weather.

In literature the “weather – feelings” metaphors are also among the most used to paint a frame and put the weather right in there with how we can experience any place, situation or hike. I am talking about sentences like:

“The Coldest Winter I Ever Spent Was a Summer in San Francisco”

( Quoted to several authors: see Quote investigator link )

Our language and stories are filled with examples of feelings and places described through describing the weather. But is it really the weather that affect us – or is it more the change of weather?

Weather and Change

I Wonder if we are not so much affected by the weather, as by the change of weather, as change seems to be much more important to our cognition and world view, than the actual status of the weather / situation.   To me it seems like we care a lot about how things change, or the lack of change, and less about how things are: Here are a few dimensions in how the change in weather and moods connects:

  • Change in plans affect change of  mood:  Maybe it is not the weather that affects you, but your decisions, when you decide to give up on a hike because of the change in weather: Often it goes like this: “phew, lets stay indoor and celebrate we’re not out there, in that terrible weather…”  And then later the:  “dammit, we’ve  wasted the whole day in here” , when you look back on the day and the trails not walked, and feel restless, especially if you have to catch up, and walk the miles later on, in the hike.
  • changing weather feels new and different – maybe it is not so much how the weather is, but more how stable ( boring ) it is. Wind is great after days of walking in stall, quiet air. But walking a coastal path in a number of stormy days can make you almost crazy, just wanting to get away from the howling sounds and into a bit of sheltered forest, a local pub, or behind somewhere that can get you out of the wind.
  • Change of Seasons – or change of habits – there is actually a name for moods that change with the seasons: SAD – seasonal Affective Disorder )  and there is a statistical curve of people experiencing mood changes throughout the year, but why this is so is still discussed. Maybe it is not the weather that affect people the most, but more the ways we change our behavior and habits throughout the year:  (social, indoor/ outdoor, physical exercise etc.) that influence our moods the most.
  • Change of clothes and place:  when the weather change we tend to absorb and interact with that change in the way we dress and where and how we want to hang out. Those changes has been seen to affect people a lot too.
    Taking on your favorite old, beaten up shorts and heading out along the beach will make you feel very different from standing under a tree in pouring rain, testing your new Goretex gear… and again it might be argued that it is the place and the clothes you decide to be and wear – not directly the weather, that influence your feelings the most.
  • Change of paths – where we walk and what trails we pick are both physically and metaphorically affected by the weather. So we walk, act and interact differently in different weather. From walking in the rain or taking the car instead ( and being grumpy because of the lack of exercise, not because of the rain ) Different trails can  push different emotions. One exampel could be If we head for the forest, because of cold weather. In the forest the feel, smells and impressions are so much different. But then again it is more the choice of trail than the weather that affects us.

All in all one might argue that we are much more affected by change (or lack of change) in the weather, and how we adapt to it – than we are affected by the weather itself.

But most hikers will agree that no matter the weather. the chance to feel and be around it outdoors is what matters the most to feel good. So put on your boots and get out there and walk, no matter the weather 🙂

Links:

Can weather affect your mood. Article from psychCentral.com:  http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/08/29/can-weather-affect-your-mood/

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