Rain does play on our moods

Published 9:35 am Monday, July 28, 2003

By Staff
Brownwood Texas is known (at least in some circles) for many things; Underwood's Barbecue and seven state football championships with the nation's winningest high school football coach at the helm are two. Brownwood is near the geographic center of the state and is considered the northern gateway to the Texas Hill Country.
One thing Brownwood is not known for is rain. The average annual rainfall hovers just around 18 inches. A good year might see 24 inches of precipitation. The word 'brown' definitely refers to the color of things in reference to the area.
That's what has made this spring and summer so hard for me, and I suspect many others. In June alone, I experienced as much rain, and the dark, humid cloudy skies it brings with it, as I was used to facing over the entire year when I lived in that central Texas town.
The St. Petersburg Times ran an article on June 28 about gloomy weather and its impact on moods. The article quoted Dr. Carlos Santana, a professor of psychiatry at the University of South Florida. He said that inclement weather can make people feel depressed because we are forced to spend time indoors when it seems we should be outside, engaged in activities like tending to the yard, playing with our children or simply walking around the neighborhood.
The good news, according to the doctor, is that the condition passes quickly, often as soon as the sun breaks through the clouds.
And as Annie said at the orphanage, "The sun will come out tomorrow!"
Santana said there are steps that each of us can take to create our own bright sunshine during those rainy days.
His first suggestion is to stay active, even if indoors. Making a trip to the store or mall and doing nothing more than strolling up and down the aisles will give a person an activity that gets them moving as well as putting them in contact with others.
Another of Santana's suggestions in the article, but one that must be taken with caution, is to eat a favorite food. While indulging in our favorite meal may brighten our mood, the drop in physical activity can actually make it a detrimental idea. Santana suggests this as a secondary approach.
His final suggestion is to interact with other people and to call a friend or neighbor and just chat. The communication can lift spirits, just as long as the talk isn't about the weather.
Santana went on to say that children don't seem to suffer from the same malaise that adults seem to find themselves in during extended periods of rain and cloudy weather. That is somewhat surprising given their high energy levels, but he said that children tend to have a "tremendous ability to adjust to their environment."
Rain plays a vital role in our planet's re-growth each spring and summer, and it would be hard to find many people who would prefer to live in sunshine 365 days a year. However, as human beings it can make our moods darker.
There's not much we can do about the weather, so I'm working hard to put all the rain in a positive light. Locally, it's been a huge help to the new hanging baskets in Downtown. And heck, I haven't had to water my lawn all summer.
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