When the weather warms up, many people head outdoors to enjoy the summer sun and shake off the cold of winter. It’s easy to think that better weather means improving your mood, like the sun breaking through the clouds after a thunderstorm. However, is there really any evidence to show that warmer weather makes people happier?
Yes and No
One of the primary reasons why this idea persists is because people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) experience seasonal depression in the winter and often feel better in the summer. For adults with SAD, the warmth and sunlight of summer definitely have an effect on mood.
If you are not dealing with SAD, research has found that the tangible link between weather and mood is small. One 2008 study observed daily reports of mental well-being and local weather conditions (temperature, sunlight, etc.). The results found that no weather measurements significantly predicted a positive effect. However, there was some evidence that negative effects (depression, jitters, irritability) actually increased in warmer periods. Even where there was a correlation, it was so minor that no scientific conclusions can be drawn.
Summer Lovin’, Had Me a Blast
If summer doesn’t have a positive effect on mood, then why is it so strongly linked with summer flings? Here, we have to turn to Facebook for the answer. It sounds silly, but Facebook has accrued a remarkable amount of data on relationships. In 2012, Facebook found that most break-ups occurred in the early summer (June) and most new relationships began in February immediately after Valentine’s Day. Instead of summer being the perfect time for relationships to blossom, it instead seems to be the perfect time for them to fall apart.
However, the reputation that summer has for flings might be justified based on other studies. One 2013 study tracked attractive young men who approached women and asked for their phone numbers on sunny days and cloudy days. Sure enough, when the weather was warmer, the success rate hovered near 25%. When the weather was cloudy, it dropped to 15%. Even though the summer could mean bad news for long-term relationships, it might be the perfect time of year to go on a date or meet someone new (as long as you don’t have forever in mind!).
Help for Summer and Beyond
Although many people think that better weather means better moods, that isn’t always the case. Research shows that summer can be just as emotionally tumultuous as any other time of year (if not more so!). If you’re suffering this summer, from heartbreak, depression or anything in between, you aren’t alone. Reach out to CBT Baltimore at 443-470-9815. We would love to help.