Sunshine Equals Happiness: How to Brighten Your Mood on Gloomy Days

One of the hardest parts of adjusting to Boston was getting used to the gloomy days. In Texas, I was so used to having constant sunshine. I didn’t realize how much the sun affects my mood until I experienced many days without sun. There is a direct correlation between sunshine and happiness. Sunlight increases serotonin levels, which makes you happier. This feeling could also be Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The symptoms include constantly feeling depressed, having low energy, changes in appetite and/or weight, have difficulty concentrating, and low interest in the things you usually do.  This is why during the dark winters, our moods may not be as great. After being exposed to constant sunlight in Texas, the lack of sun really has affected my overall mood and day to day life. I couldn’t exactly figure out why  I felt this way so I have experimented different methods to make me feel happier. I have researched ways to get more Vitamin D, and I have found a few tips to brighten your mood on gloomy days.

Take vitamin D supplements & Eat foods with vitamin D-  After having my mom constantly telling me to take my vitamins, I recently just started taking vitamin D supplements and I can already see a difference in my mood. I have more energy (without having caffeine) and I am in an overall better mood.  All you have to do is take one to two supplements with food. They are so easy to find too. I personally bought mine on Amazon, but they are also available at drug stores or even some grocery stores. Here are just a few foods that are rich in vitamin D: fatty fish (tuna, mackerel, and salmon), orange juice, soy milk, almond milk, yogurt, oatmeal, cheese, and egg yolks.

Buy a Happy Light- I still really, really want a Happy Light. I actually heard about this Happy Light from one of my fellow sun lovers from California. The Happy Light is made to mimic sunlight and enhance mood, energy, sleep, and focus. They start around $40. Personally, I think this is a great investment. Especially considering the weather in Boston. I am definitely going to be purchasing one for next year. For a basic light, you can buy it on Amazon, but for the more high end Happy Lights there are more specialized websites.

Take a walk- Even though the sun may not be out, a quick little walk can boost your mood. Being cooped up indoors all day is not beneficial to your mood. A little exercise is guaranteed to make your body happier. I love going on walks through the Boston Gardens and then I make my way to the Charles River. If I’m in a really good mood, then I go to Newbury. 

Embrace the sun when it does come out- On the days that there is sun, take full advantage of it. Go for a run. Sit and do your homework outside at a cafe. Stroll the commons. Whatever you want to do, just make sure it is outdoors in the sun. I also am a huge believer in skipping class when the weather is nice. Of course, I have only done this one or two times. I am still a good student. But on the days when it is pretty out, just a few minutes outside can make a huge difference to your day. 

I hope these few tips help you boost your mood. I know that I rely heavily on these during the winter and I take full advantage of any sunlight now. Although we can’t change the weather, there are so many steps we can take to boost our mood!


How to Survive Boston’s Weird Weather

“How’s the weather today?”

This question has been on my lips every morning for the last three months. Growing up in Rhode Island, I have learned from a young age not to question 60 degree days in December, snow in April and everything in between. But what about Emersonians from warm places like LA, Miami and New Orleans who have never known this kind of debauchery? How are the people from even harsher places handling this–the ones who have always relied on cold staying cold? How are the international students who are just now experiencing life in this hemisphere? My advice to everyone baffled by these strange occurrences: look no further and have no fear. There is a way to cope with Boston’s madness and I suggest you take notes.

Check the Weather Reports

If you have a smartphone, you can access weather data instantaneously with the touch of a finger. Don’t make the mistake of relying on friends’ opinions of what it’s like outside. Each person’s experience of temperature is subjective and unique to their own perspective on the meaning of “cold.” I have one friend who wears nothing but converse and a blazer in a foot of snow. Do the smart thing and check the temperature on your phone–it even gives you an unbiased estimation of what it “feels like” based on wind chill. Just be aware that forecasts going later into the week are subject to error.

Listen to Your Mother

Even in the event of an unseasonably warm winter like this one, a cold snap is always lurking around the corner. Don’t get faked out by a week of t-shirt weather; the next day it can drop to below freezing. Try to dress accordingly to the weather app’s predictions, but also pay attention to how long you will be out. If you leave your dorm or apartment in the morning and come back at night, things will be quite different. This is why I say to listen to your mother and dress in layers. When I was just a tiny tot, my mom used to put me in the puffiest coat she could find. To further the marshmallow effect she added mittens, a hat much too large for my head and huge snow boots. Now that we’re all adults here, you can make these choices for yourself. That means that you can exclude certain dorky factors if you wish, but you still might want to wear a third item on top of your shirt and beneath your coat. Think of it like this: if it ends up being colder than you thought it would be, an extra layer will be appreciated. If it gets up to 50 or so, you’ll be glad to have some middle ground between your ski jacket and t-shirt that you can peel down to. Another tip from all the moms out there: bring a hat and gloves!

Plan Around the Temperature

If you’re like me, you had some cool stuff planned during the last snow day that unfortunately did not happen. If I had been smart like you are and read a blog post like this one, I would have known to look ahead and plan that stuff for a day when the wind wasn’t trying to rip my face off.

I personally am still getting used to the concept of not being able to hop in the car and drive somewhere. The T is arguably a problematic fave, to be favored only above walking. In nor’easter conditions and light flurries alike, you never know when some tracks will get shut down. Keep in mind that rush hour times will be particularly bad when the train you need is only running half as often as usual. Plan ahead and don’t get caught in the middle of a blizzard with no milk for your cereal!

Learn to Love It

When you’re feeling particularly resentful towards the weather, remember that not everyone gets to witness all four seasons in a year. Boston may be annoying from November to March, but hey, at least there’s never a dull moment. When it rains, put on your moody poet face and sit in a coffee shop–you can even glare at people broodingly as they walk by the window. When it snows, go outside and try to catch snowflakes on your tongue. And when it’s a bitter cold, take a walk down memory lane and remember all the good times you had when it was sunny!