5 Scientific Reasons to Feel Optimistic on a Rainy Day

Updated: Feb. 09, 2017

Feeling blue during April showers? Here, surprising ways rainy days actually benefit your mood, productivity, and relationships.


You’re more productive at work

Need to meet a pressing deadline? Wet weather may be the incentive you need. In a 2012 study, Harvard Business School researchers found that employees at a mid-size Japanese bank finished projects faster on gloomy days than they did on sunny ones. According to researchers, we’re less likely to get distracted by thoughts of outdoor activities so it’s easier to stay focused. To maximize your effectiveness at the office, you may want to check out the forecast at the beginning of the week: Plan clerical tasks for rainy weather and save creative tasks—feeling distracted may actually help you come up with new ideas—for sunny ones.

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You’re probably not as glum as you think

Think those Californians have it easy? In one study, college students in the Midwest and California were asked to rate their own level of happiness, or were asked to guess how happy a similar student in the other region was. Students predicted that those in sunnier California would be happier than their Midwest counterparts, but researchers discovered that people in both areas reported similar levels of happiness.

Your perception of the weather is what brings about negative feelings, the study authors suspect. “If it is sunny every day you get used to it and the sunshine doesn’t make you any happier,” Paul Dolan, professor of behavioral science at the London School of Economics, said to the Telegraph.


You can relish those post-rain scents of spring

Here’s a word that’s probably not in your everyday lexicon: petrichor. The name of the aroma released after a storm, petrichor is a combination of aerosols carrying viruses and bacteria released after raindrops hit the ground. When raindrops break through the soil’s permeable surface, they form bubbles that float upward. Once these bubbles burst in the air, they create that soothing fresh scent. Scientists say light rain on dry ground will create a stronger scent due to a higher production of aerosols.


You may burn more calories on a chilly day

On a cool, drizzly day you may be tempted to throw on a cardigan or hurry inside, but spending time in cool weather could provide an extra calorie boost. When your body shivers in mildly cold temperatures (researchers defined this as around 64 degrees) it burns energy, which revs your
metabolism and burns fat. In a study published in the journal Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism, scientists from Maastricht University in the Netherlands noted that “regular exposure to mild cold may provide a healthy and sustainable alternative strategy for increasing energy expenditure.” If you’re trying to lose a few extra pounds, consider avoiding extra layers of clothing.


You may feel closer to friends and family

File this one under weird-but-true: In a 2012 study, Newcastle University found that when the weather is especially rainy, cold, snowy, or hot, the length of phone calls to close friends and family increased, while the actual number of calls decreased. In other words, when bad weather
strikes and we huddle indoors, we’re more likely to reach out to close connections and shut out our wider network, lead researcher Santi Phithakkitnukoon said in a press release. Use the weather as an excuse to indulge in a long chat with your loved ones.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest