The weather's effect on physical and mental health
COLUMBIA - You may use our weather forecast to plan your day’s activities, whether to jog indoors or outdoors, maybe to wear shorts rather than jeans. But, weather goes way deeper than that. It can affect your physical and mental well being.
Maybe you’ve heard people say they can “feel it in their bones” when severe weather is on the way. Well, some studies have shown that may actually be true. Severe weather is usually associated with low pressure systems. That drastic drop in barometric pressure causes the tissues in your joints--maybe like your elbows or knees--to contract or expand, and that causes pain for you.
The weather also impacts your mental health. Generally, people are happier on sunny days and gloomier on cloudy days. Then, there’s what’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder. It’s real and affects many people.
“Seasonal Affective Disorder is actually a type of depression and the number of people that it affects varies based on the latitude that the person is at and basically how much sunlight they’re getting," says MU Clinical Psychology Graduate Student Jaclyn Valadka. She provided me with insight on the mental health side of weather.
Your mental health can also affect how you react to severe weather. Some people are more or less likely to seek shelter during tornadoes depending on their optimism levels.
“These are kind of heuristic and cognitive biases that people have thinking that it won’t happen to me or I don’t need to worry that tend to not be true," says Valadka. "That’s how a lot of people find themselves in trouble."
As we’ve seen, weather can impact your mental and physical health, but severe weather can impact so much more. So when severe weather is on the way, stay calm, take it seriously, stick with us at KOMU 8 as we track it out for you, and it will be sunnier on the other side.