The Role of Weather in the Flow of Daily Life
This morning I’m having a bit of trouble getting started. I am rather distracted and somewhat unmotivated. When I look at my to do list for the day, I begin thinking about how nice and warm my bed might be. Today is definitely one of those low energy days.
The problem- quite simply is the weather outside. As I am writing it’s -30 °C, with a chill of -38 °C. With that kind of cold, I have to rethink my normal schedule. I’m certainly going to shy away from anything out of doors that can possibly wait a day or two. I really can’t help thinking that today might be a good day to keep warm and read a good book.
There’s nothing like extreme weather to remind a person that nature is still firmly in the driver’s seat. With modern climate control, it’s so easy to forget that not so very long ago our daily schedules revolved around the weather and the seasons. Not only did each season require very different activities (planting-harvesting or hunting-gathering) but each day also drove the day to day activities (no one harvests when it’s raining and the crops are wet).
A hundred years ago, on a bitter cold day like today, work would have virtually stopped. Once the animals were safe, warm, and fed humans would have retreated to the safety of a warm fireplace. Then it was time to relax and enjoy the company of others.
Even earlier in our collective history, for many traditional societies winter was the time when people would spend time preparing for spring. Women would make clothing. Men would make arrowheads. Equipment such as fishing nets would be repaired.
For the most part, today our daily schedules aren’t directly tied to the seasons or the weather. Unless you work outside for a living, you probably don’t think much one way or the other about the weather. That is, until there’s an extreme weather day.
With this said, whether we recognize it or not, there is some definite evidence that our bodies are still affected by the weather. Have you ever noticed that it is much easier to get motivated on a warm sunny day than on a cold, rainy, or windy one? Somehow, when the weather’s nice people seem more cheerful and positive. On a cold and miserable day everyone seems a little on edge.
What we don’t generally realize is that outside environmental factors such as excesses in heat and cold are stressful to our bodies. Even though we live indoors with full climate control, our body still registers these environmental changes. It then reacts naturally (and automatically), like fight or flight reactions. Essentially, our primitive brain still associates the cold weather season with a lack of food and an increased draw on resources to keep the body warm and functioning normally. Perhaps this is why on cold days such as today, we have a natural tendency to want to have a mini-hibernation.