When it Rains...
I don't know about you, but rainy days are just NOT my favourite. I thrive on the sun - waking up to a sunny day makes me feel energized and 'ready'. When it is dark and rainy outside, the dampness gets to me. It feels gloomy, my joints get stiff, I have to wear a hood outside... AGH!
Many people are similar. There is good evidence that sunshine has a positive effect on things like cognition, mood, memory, energy, sense of well-being, and more (see this article for just some information!). In some individuals with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), light in general has a strong impact on their mood.
The past few weeks in Ontario have been nothing short of .... 'interesting' in terms of weather. April was a relatively dry month, but May and June have been bringing us all sorts of surprises! It has a been a colder and wetter May and June since I can recall!
I noticed myself - especially three weeks ago - feeling very frustrated with the rainy weather. After all, we have all heard of 'April showers bring May flowers'; but May and June showers - along with much colder temperatures - had my mood down. This is not unique; there is a wealth of information about how weather impacts our mood in general (see this article for one example). For a few weeks of nonstop rain, I had had ENOUGH. I longed for some sunshine - and travelling was not an option.
Seeing as I could not control the weather, I realized that I had to shift my mindset around the weather. I could not change whether or not it was sunny, nor could I control the damp weather and dark days. But, I sure as ever could manage and shift my mindset around the less sunny, wetter days.
What are the benefits of rain? I love nature - and we have a few large trees outside my home that are continuing to grow. Of course, these need water - and what better nourishment than natural rain! (Not to mention it saves me time and money from watering them myself!). In addition, the rain would be great for 'cleaning' the streets naturally.
Another thing I noticed is how amazing God is. God provides sunshine and rain. He gives the Earth all it needs in His glorious and abundance mercy. There are so many animals and plants that depend on rainfall to sustain them. Or what about the fact that after rain, we can often see a rainbow? Or the lovely appearance of trees with wet branches gleaming in the sun?
When I started to think like this, the rainy days started to bother me less. Note that I am a 'rain-lover' now. I still very much prefer the sun and dislike the rain. But, I have realized that reflecting on the beauty of God's love for us and His providence through the rain; the glory of the rain in sustaining nature; and the fact that each season is unique has allowed me to accept the rainy days.
Now, instead of looking at rainy days and feeling instantly gloomy, bogged down, frustrated, and sad...I now take the 'day as it is'. This has made an incredible impact on my mood; the messages I tell myself have a strong impact on how I feel.
Instead of 'oh great, another rainy and dark day that will make me feel tired and stiff'.... I can now just say 'oh hey, it is raining today. I need a raincoat'. And, should I feel saddened or annoyed throughout the day from all the dampness, I will think instead 'today is rainy and although I might not be joyful about this, I know that rain is a gift from God and represents the various seasons in life'.
And besides, after the rain, there is sun. Maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow, but it eventually comes. Just like the seasons of our lives, we must experience seasons of nature. Rainy days might not be my favourite, but changing the way I react to them has completely changed my entire outlook on the days (or weeks!) that are rainy. This is not an illusion; our mindset and mood are intrinsically related.
This shift has been so important for my mental health. Now, when it rains, I can take a step back and not let it impact my mood...because my mindset has shifted. Let the rain pour, let the trees grow, and let the sunshine follow!