Feeling the warmth of the sun on your skin is one of life’s simple pleasures. It’s also one of nature’s most effective feel-good chemical releases for our brains and bodies. While we’ve been told to avoid the sun, we can now happily say that when taken in proper amounts, it has healing properties that go far beyond a smile on a sunny day. Here, we’ll cover exactly what those sun rays are doing for your body.
It’s no secret that the majority of people prefer sunny days. It’s not only physically brighter outside, but it transcends to our inner emotional world, too. Sunshine helps increase serotonin levels in the brain, making us feel calmer and more relaxed.
If you work indoors, it’s best to take breaks throughout the day to get some sunlight on your face. A 15-minute walk in the park or even sitting on a sunny bench for 5 minutes can already help to boost your mood.
Sunshine helps regulate your circadian rhythm by managing your melatonin levels. This is the hormone that helps encourage your body to sleep after dark. It works in tandem with serotonin, meaning you’ll not only feel better during the day but also feel ready for a good night’s rest at bedtime. More sunlight helps your body produce more melatonin as the evening sets and it’s time to sleep, helping you to fall asleep more quickly and sleep more soundly.
Less anxiety and depression
Sunshine lowers blood pressure, which helps to calm the body. Plus, with the increase in the feel good chemical, serotonin, you’re better able to manage life stressors and have an overall better sense of well-being. Less sunlight is directly associated with mood and anxiety disorders, making sunshine an important part of any treatment plan.
If you find yourself more irritable, anxious, or depressed, try to get an early morning walk with the sun. Consider taking regular breaks outdoors throughout the day. A SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) lamp is helpful even in the summer if you spend most of your time indoors. Another option if you’re unable to get out is to do exercise like yoga in a sunny spot. Cardio is another option as it’s a great mood-booster that helps release serotonin.
Getting sunshine first thing in the morning is known to help stabilize your circadian rhythm, allowing you to fall asleep easier at night and have more energy in the day. There is also some evidence suggesting that the first rays of sunshine in the morning can help highly sensitive people feel calmer throughout the day and manage stress more easily.
Additionally, the increased serotonin levels brought on by sunshine help you to think more analytically, which can make stressful events more manageable. You’re able to focus more easily and feel more productive throughout the day, making work tasks less draining.
Stronger immune system
Sunshine improves your health in many different ways. It helps to strengthen the immune system, which means it improves the rate at which you heal and how often you get sick. It also reduces inflammation and helps to prevent diseases or even current issues. Symptoms of IBS, for example, improve significantly with more vitamin D and sunlight exposure.
On top of that, more sunshine has also been associated with a healthier weight. With a healthy weight the body’s hormones naturally work better, helping to decrease anxiety and depression.
How to get a safe amount of sunshine
If you’re looking to get more sunshine but are worried about overdoing it, research shows about 15 minutes of exposure to the legs and arms, or 30 for darker skin types, can be enough to get the benefits without worrying about the costs to your health. 10 You can also slowly build up your tolerance to sunshine, getting more in the early mornings or evenings when the UV is lower. Small spurts of 5-15 minutes also work well for the body to enjoy the benefits and begin synthesizing vitamin D.
Ways to get more sunlight in your day
Taking it slowly without overdoing it is the best way to start introducing more sunshine into your day. Early morning walks and rests in the park during work can even help you feel more relaxed throughout your day. If it’s not possible to get outdoors more during times of sunshine, you can also invest in a SAD lamp to help bring the sunshine indoors. Luckily, they’re getting much easier to find and afford these days, so getting one before winter begins can go a long way to make that light summer feeling last. Overall, 5-15 minutes a day, throughout the day, is the best way to ensure you’re getting regular amounts of the healing properties of sunlight.