Met Éireann has forecasted more sunny days ahead – but why are people feeling guilty over the weather?
'Sunshine guilt’ occurs when people feel “trapped” while they think everyone else is outside enjoying the good weather, according to clinical psychologist Dr Anne Kehoe.
“Everyone will have experienced this at some point, certainly if they're in school or work and it's a lovely day,” she told Lunchtime Live.
“What happens in the body when the sun is shining and you're out in nature, you feel calmer, you feel happier, more focused because the sunlight is influencing your serotonin levels.”
People who are “trapped inside” during the day can experience “a lot of jealousy” because of this, as well as guilt for doing tasks inside such as cleaning.
Dr Kehoe said sunshine guilt is “quite an Irish thing”.
“If we lived in the west coast of the States, it would be sunny all the time and there wouldn’t be a feeling of needing to use it,” she explained.
“But when you’ve gone through a really long winter with glimpses of sun and now it’s actually happening... your body is saying ‘get me out there’.”
“We know [the sun] is going to go again sadly, so we might get a good week or two and then it might be raining again... the guilt we’re feeling is about using that time.”
Dr Kehoe said sunshine guilt is “trickier” when you have a choice of what to do on a sunny day – and you also can feel guilty for enjoying the sun too much.
“If it's a Saturday or Sunday and you think, ‘I could deprioritise these things I had planned’ and then you feel more guilty because you have some agency or control over what you had to,” she explained.
Despite that, Dr Kehoe recommended getting plenty of sun for physical and mental wellbeing.
“Access to sunlight triggers your circadian rhythm, which is your sleep cycle,” she said. “The research says getting out in the light early in the day triggers a certain biological clock.”
“That then sets a timer for the time that you will then start to feel sleepy at night... so we recommend getting as much sunlight as possible early in the day.”
People also feel calmer in the right amount of heat, according to Dr Kehoe.
“People tip more in good weather. The stock market is better,” she said. “They're more likely to help somebody in the good weather.”
“You got to take [the sunlight] when it's coming.”