Banish your rainy day blues

Do April showers put you in a funk? Research suggests that women are even more affected by bad weather than men. Fortunately, our editors found some surprising ways to get over the grump.

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We’ve all been there: the day is bleak, your feet are wet and your hair is ruined. What girl wouldn’t be off her game? April showers bring May flowers, sure, but they can also bring frustrating days and bad moods. If I wake to the sound of rain beating down on the roof, the first thing I want to do is pull the covers back up over my head and stay in bed. It takes an effort for me to face the day, the usual flimsy umbrella in hand—and with every gust of wind that turns it inside out, every puddle I inadvertently step in and every passing car that splashes my slacks, I get a little angrier. Why me? I think, as though I am the only one the rain drops are falling upon.

And it turns out, there are studies to back up my rainy day depression. According to research by Marie Connolly published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, women, in particular, are affected by wet weather. Her paper suggests that, “women are much more responsive than men to the weather, and life satisfaction decreases with the amount of rain …” An inverse correlation, it seems, is happening here: when rainfall increases, happiness plummets.

Regardless of the reason that women are more affected (which still seems to be a mystery), you still need to slosh your way through a soggy April to reach those beautiful, sunny spring days. So here are five ways to battle back and stay positive.

Find your rain diet

It’s easy to go off the rails when it’s raining and the idea of staying home with a batch of warm chocolate chip cookies all to yourself seems more than a little appealing. Unfortunately, the temporary lift you get from indulging that fantasy will only be replaced with a little helping of self-loathing later. Instead, plan ahead by having the right ingredients on hand for a deliciously healthy dinner. (Admit it, you were forewarned about the rain!) A wonderful three-bean vegetarian chili with low fat sour cream can serve as excellent comfort food without the extra calories.

Make plans with friends

When the forecast is rain, the tendency is to stay home and wait the wet out. But socializing is a mood booster, while sitting home alone is a bummer. Grab a glass of wine, arrange to see a movie or meet for a museum visit. Once you’re out and about, you’ll feel better. When I lived in Amsterdam where it rains 10-20 days out of each month, the locals never let rain ruin their plans. They just adjust them slightly (picnic inside instead of outside) and move on. I learned a lot from my year there about how to ignore raindrops.

Practice sunshine meditation

Imagined experiences can be extremely powerful. Close your eyes and think of a sunny afternoon on the beach. Feel the warm rays reaching down and brightening your day. Sure, when you open your eyes, you will see that it is still raining, but you just took a mini vacation that boosted your mood with sunny thoughts. Hang on to that! You can even try setting your screensaver to a photo of sunny greenery to help boost your mood: a study published in The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that just looking at pictures of green environments help people recover from stress.

Pack extra socks

There are few things worse on a cold weekday morning than sopping wet or even just damp feet. If your socks or stockings get soaked on the way to work you’re in for hours of cold, clammy misery. Co-workers can’t see what’s ailing you, but they won’t fail to notice the change in your usually sunny disposition. Of course, the solution is almost ridiculously simple: keep a pair of clean, dry socks or tights on handeither as a desk drawer staple (just like that emergency deodorant you have on file) or in your purse. They won’t take up nearly as much room as your folding umbrella. Speaking of which …

Buy a cute umbrella

When you’re prepared for bad weather with the right gear, you almost look forward to the wet days so that you can show off your rainy day style. (Much in the way you try to motivate yourself to go to the gym with cute and colorful workout clothes.) A cheery pair of polka dot boots or a bright yellow umbrella are a practical way of saying “I’m not letting this weather get me down!”

Leave work on time!

According to Marie Connolly, this time in the Journal of Labor Economics, people tend to stay at work longer on rainy days. Who wants to leave the dry confines of even the most lowly cubicle to venture out in to the yuck? But you should resist the urge to rack up the overtime by setting a designated hour to leave the office, and sticking to it. You’ll be just as miserable traveling in the rain at 6pm as you will be at 7pm … and staying at work late never does much to elevate anyone’s mood.

Antonia van der Meer
Antonia van der Meer
Antonia van der Meer is a magazine writer and the author of "Beach House Happy: The Joy of Living by the Water."