How sunlight helps you feel better

I’ve been writing a lot about being outside - can you tell we missed the warmer weather? Well, here’s another nature themed self-care blog post for you!

Springtime

During the spring, the weather warms up and there’s more sunlight during the day and the sun also feels warmer. Sunlight is one of my absolute favourite things. Even when it’s dark out, I like to have a good bright light in my room to get a boost of light from - I’ve even tried a SAD lamp, which actually helps a lot in the winter months. But, since there’s more sunlight outside why not take advantage of it? After all, plants and animals thrive in the sun - so we should too.

Some people have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and have a hard time in the winter months when the sun is out for shorter and less intense periods during the day. SAD is sometimes called the “winter-blues” and I wrote about it in another article called How to cope with the Holiday Blues.

Sunlight on flowers in a field

Sunlight on flowers in a field

So how does the sun help?

But even if you don’t have SAD, the sunlight still will help to boost your mood and your health. According to a Time article, lack of natural sunlight can actually affect your metabolism, immune systems and brain chemicals. Aside from the physical health, this article says that many studies have explored how the strongest affect sunlight has on us is our mood. This is because sunlight is linked to our production or serotonin which causes us to be more calm and happy and have lower levels of depression and anxiety.

An article in Vol. 5 of Dermato-Endocrinology also says that sunlight produces the “sunshine vitamin” - vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency can cause health related issues, but having regular exposure to the “sunshine vitamin” is actually really good for us. In fact this article says that increasing our levels of Vitamin D can lead to improved musculoskeletal health and also improved overall health and welfare.

How can you get more sunlight?

Spend time outside!

I know we all can’t spend as much time outside as we might like to so if you can’t get outside while the sun is shining, try to sit by a window or by a doorway where the sunlight can come in. The other day I was feeling drained and tired and during a break I went and just sat under a sunbeam coming through the ceiling in my building. It helped so much. Just getting that exposure to some sunlight through that window for five minutes helped me feel so much better.

Even today I needed to get some work done so I found a table right by the window where the sun was shining. It was a little warmer in that spot I’ll admit, but just getting to sit in the sun is such a nice feeling.

So if you can I really do encourage you to get outside for a little while, but if not sitting by a window is great too!

But, if none of those are options you can also get a SAD lamp. Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba actually sells these lamps - or you can rent to own one and after the final payment it’s yours!

These lamps help provide that light frequency to give you an energy and mood boost even when you can’t get out into the sun. All you have to do is turn it on at your desk (or wherever you are) for about 20 minutes during the morning and it can help you feel better.

So, please go ahead and ENJOY THE SUN. I know I have been, and will keep doing every opportunity that I get.


Resources:

mooddisordersmanitoba.ca

https://doi.org/10.4161/derm.24494

http://time.com/4888327/why-sunlight-is-so-good-for-you/