As the days continue to lengthen and we are graced with more sunshine, maybe you’ve noticed that you have a bit more pep in your step. You can credit this difference to the profound impact that sunlight has on mental health!
According to numerous studies, the appropriate level of vitamin D, which can easily be produced from 10-15 minutes per day of sun exposure, is a key factor in helping prevent and alleviate depressive symptoms. Sunlight also causes the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter directly linked with mood and energy. Additionally, UVA rays generate nitric oxide in your skin, increasing blood flow and therefore energy is better absorbed. With the change of seasons and longer days, there is a much better chance that we get our necessary dose of sunshine, which can lead to remission of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and/or improvement of major depressive disorder.
These are important findings because they place a component of mental wellness into our own control. We recognize the importance of taking a break from our day to enjoy a walk outside, which benefits both our physical and mental state. In colder, darker times of the year, we make sure to take a vitamin D supplement or use light therapy as a substitute for natural sunlight. Overall, knowing how sunshine affects our mental health allows us to care for our well-being in a way proven to make a difference!
Written by Heather Ehnert