Ways to get more sunshine in order to be happier
Ever notice that your mood changes with the seasons? You can feel down due to seasonal changes any time of the year, but Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) occurs mostly during the winter, causing your mood to shift way below those sad old blues. Being stuck inside an office for most of the day doesn’t help, either.
How can you help boost your mood? The answer is simple: sunlight. If you’re not a vampire, your body needs to absorb it.
Do you have low energy or issues sleeping? If you’ve lost interest in activities you enjoy or feel depressed most of the time, a change needs to be made — and it could be something as simple as getting a little more sun.
The Body Needs Sunlight Exposure
Your body needs the sun’s UVB rays to synthesise vitamin D, but you don’t need to spend hours sunbathing. Brief exposure to the sun for as little as 15 minutes can be enough to lift your mood and absorb the benefits of vitamin D.
Vitamin D is important for calcium absorption, bone growth and immune system function. Some studies also suggest that sun exposure lowers your blood pressure and your overall risk for heart disease. Additionally, scientists believe vitamin D absorption from sunlight reduces women’s risk of breast cancer, in addition to vitamin D intake through diet.
Exposure to sunlight can even help you sleep better. Natural sunlight helps to shut off melatonin production in the body, regulating your sleep cycle. Experts believe that serotonin production increases when the days are longer and the nights are shorter. They stress the importance of getting better sleep and a healthier outlook by enjoying the sunlight.
Enjoy Your Time in the Sun
Consider these tips when looking for things you can do to enjoy the sun:
1. Enjoy the light after sunrise and around sunset with a brief walk. For those who hate the heat and who burn easily, avoid peak sunlight hours. The sun is at its highest intensity typically between about 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. depending on whether you’re on daylight savings time or on standard time.
A brief walk outside of those times, though, allows you to take in nature with exercise and breathe outside of those suffocating four walls — and you likely won’t be sweltering or burning, either.
2. Develop a walking or play routine with your dog in the sun. If you’ve been walking your dog mostly at night, it might be time for a new routine. You’ll both get the benefits of time in the sun.
3. Sitting by the window to absorb the benefits of sunlight is mostly myth. Sure, there’s a psychological boost you receive by looking out the window. However, the window filters out the good rays (UVB) your body needs. Instead, opt for something like sitting on a sun porch, which allows the good rays to get to your skin since there are screens rather than glass.
4. Take advantage of work breaks to switch up a boring day and get some sun. Eat lunch or a snack outside. Walk to the nearest coffee shop for your daily java. Changing up your routine is also a great mood booster!
5. Take a Yoga or Tai Chi class outside. Many studios recognise the important benefits of the sun and combine that with the positive health effects of mindful practice of Yoga and Tai Chi. If you’ve always wanted to take a class, here’s a great opportunity for exercise with plenty of room and fun in the sun.
6. Challenge your family or roommates to a quick water gun fight. At the end of this battle, whoever is the least wet doesn’t have to cook or do a particular chore they hate for a week.
Leave a water gun with a note for your spouse and have the kids ready with the water balloons. Sure, it’s kind of an ambush, but love does sometimes means war.
7. Let the sun give you a double boost! Grow or “sun-soak” mushrooms. When exposed to sunlight during growth or before eating, mushrooms have a higher vitamin D content. While you organize the mushrooms on trays to “sun-soak,” you’ll be getting your sun, too! Mushrooms already high in vitamin D (% DV per cup) are: Maitake (131%), Morel (23%), Chanterelle (19%), Oyster (4%) and White (1%).
8. Start a veggie garden. Planting a vegetable garden doesn’t have to be difficult. Gardens do take a lot of hard work and dedication, though, so you’ll have to be outside to maintain them.
While you’re working in your garden, you’ll be getting some necessary sun exposure, you’ll also get exercise and be able to grow vegetables to nourish your body. An added bonus is you’ll know exactly where those vegetables come from, too.
The Sun Isn’t the Bad Guy
Exposure to sunlight is necessary for your health, regulating your sleep, maintaining your cardiac health and boosting your mood. The sun isn’t the bad guy out to cause cancer. However, don’t spend too much time out in the sun at once because that can cause problems. Be sure to use sunscreen, and you can even protect yourself with a homemade sunscreen containing zinc oxide to help prevent burns.
There are many simple, creative ways to get sunlight and boost your mood and overall health. So get out there and enjoy the sun, non-vampires! You’ll see some big health benefits in the end.
By: Sarah Landrum
Sarah Landrum recently graduated from Penn State with degrees in Marketing and PR. Now, she’s a freelance writer and founder of Punched Clocks sharing advice on navigating the work world and achieving happiness and success in your career. You can find her tweeting on her coffee breaks @SarahLandrum