Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone, It’s not warm when she’s away.

Ask a child to draw two pictures— one on a rainy day and a second in the sunshine — and you pretty much know what to expect.  In the first, as blue raindrops fall from the top of the page, the stick figure behind the window is frowning. When a yellow sun beams from the corner, the stick man is smiling, with his scrawny arms in the air and colorful flowers at his feet. Even his stick dog wears a grin.

That rain is gloom and sunshine happiness is metaphorical, though it rings true because humans are inherently sympathetic to our environment, we are not its victims. Our emotions and motivations are not casualties of the weather. The rain can be guilty by association, but not causation.

Why? Because we are free to make choices that either better our emotions and motivations or worsen it.  On a perfect sunny day, it’s easy to get motivated for a brisk walk in the park or even a challenging jog around the neighborhood.  When it is raining, it make the outdoors a less-enticing place, it’s much harder to find the will to work out, or even work on projects inside.

With the weather forecast of ongoing heavy rain for a week in Brisbane, I instantly disliked the weather man.  Hearing the weather forecast made myself instantly unmotivated, upset and hide under the bedsheets in dismay of ongoing rain.  I  dislike the rain, I have to walk to work in it, I can’t exercise in it, it makes everything cold, wet and miserable.  Weekends of rain I will be found at home in my mickey mouse pajamas’s drinking tea, eating toasted sandwiches and cuddled up with Cooper in bed re-watching movies.  That’s what I did on Saturday afternoon when I arrived home.  Its beginning to feel a lot like winter.

After 3 hours of mopping around the house alone, with only my dogs continued attention, I suddenly thought to myself…. ‘Its sunny outside…. I’m sure of it!’, turned all the light in the house on to give the impression of a sunny day, sat at my computer desk and began writing, drawing, making lists, organizing my calendar for the next weeks study sessions, deciding on blog topics, exercise sessions to do, social activities and to do lists of chores.  I had motivated myself to continue on with my daily life, even if it meant I couldn’t get outside and run in the heavy rain.

Winter, and rainy days are times when people go outside less, become less active and eat more food.  It’s easy to find excuses to avoid exercise when it’s cold and miserable outdoors. There’s also less daylight hours, which can discourage people from being active.

Bad weather and a lack of sunlight in winter can reduce the brain’s level of the hormone serotonin, which may trigger a mild form of depression known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is characterised by a lack of energy, increased eating, longer sleep and weight gain. That lack of sunlight can leave you feeling depressed and reaching for comfort foods, especially in the colder months when you are less likely to go outside.

One of the best ways to counteract SAD is by spending more time doing other rainy day activities, such as:

  • Try rearranging linen closets or kitchen cupboards.
  • Making a phone call to a friend or relative you haven’t spoken to for a while.
  • Fix minor repairs around the house that have been pushed aside.
  • Experimenting with a new recipe, or baking and cooking.
  • Work on or finish a hobby, such as drawing, painting, coin or stamp collecting, or writing, building lego.
  • Curling up with a good book.
  • Start a crossword or jigsaw puzzles.

Often when it’s cold and miserable outside, we don’t feel like going to the gym or even going out the front door for that matter. It’s going to help you stay on track if you have some exercise options that you can perform indoors. If you feel warm and comfortable, you’ll be less likely to find excuses to avoid exercise:

  • Exercise equipment such as the treadmill or exercise bike.
  • Variety of exercise DVDs  (Michelle Bridges has a great range) that target specific body parts.
  • Yoga or Pilates.
  • Wii Fitness games.

With so many different things to do, a rainy day does not have to be boring and unmotivated.