I live in Seattle.
Sunny days in the Emerald City are like the Sonics: a fond, wistful memory. As hearty Pacific Northwesterners can attest, Seattle’s daily deluge of rain (yes, it is daily and, yes, it is a deluge) can cloud one’s moods.
Last year, Seattle recorded 18 straight days of soggy weather. This past February was the second wettest in Seattle history. When the sky isn’t spritzing (a rarity), a dull haze appears. 50 Shades of Gray indeed.
For those Pacific Northwest souls with mental health issues, gloomy weather can induce lethargy. Yes, it took every last ounce of willpower to write this article — and not stagger to the couch for a slumber.
As rain batters down on you and your mood, here are some steps to take to overcome that natural sluggishness:
First, acknowledge reality; it is scientifically proven that dreary weather impacts behavior. According to The Journal of Finance, sunshine induces positive mood and, by extension, positive behavior. When weather is milder, you are more likely to leave a generous tip or view a criminal defendant sympathetically. When the sun is raining down (yes, intentional word choice), I know that I am more solicitous of others.
Why, again, did I decide to live in soaked Seattle?
While a fortunate few live in Florida and other sun-splashed locales, the rest of us contend with Mother Nature’s unpredictable whims. But even without moving to Florida, there are ways to put yourself in the sunshine state. Here is how.
Let There Be Light
On Seattle’s rain-soaked days, the sky looms ominously. There is a grayness — even a drabness — darkening the day. My default response: climb into bed and wait for the dreariness to depart. But, in Seattle, the wait would be eternal.
As the gloominess threatens to envelop me, my own therapy box provides light (no pun intended). Popularly known as a UV lightbox, these clever instruments mimic the sun. Researchers have found that these devices improve your mood.
From personal experience, I am a true believer. When placing the lightbox next to my work computer, my mind — once slumbering through the day — suddenly awakens. I am sharper, my productivity and disposition are much-improved. And for a fairly reasonable price (I purchased my therapy box for $40), I can experience summer in Seattle year-around.
Sweat It Out
To counter Seattle’s daily downpour, I have been scheduling daily appointments at my local sauna. While the rain bludgeons, I am enveloped in a dry heat cocoon. In the sweltering sauna, sweat and toxins flood out of my taut body. Caked in a healthy, rejuvenating sweat, my mind feels refreshed. I am ready to tackle the day — and Seattle’s drizzly weather.
Well-established in Scandinavia, saunas are more than just restorative; they cleanse your body of harmful toxins. The Journal of Environmental and Public Health lauds saunas for their natural detoxification. And with saunas’ infrared rays, they can emulate the sun’s well-documented health benefits (triggering serotonin and related endorphins).
Here Seasonal Affective Disorder is more aptly named Seattle Affective Disorder. As the sun plays (mainly) hide and (all the time) seek, my mood can be more angst-ridden than those iconic 90s grunge bands. But before you despair at the dreary weather forecast, remember there is light(box) at the end of the sauna.