Sunlight & Wellbeing – Why You Should Spend More Time in the Sun
One of the greatest life-giving forces in the world. A mystical object of worship for generations of different origins. So mysterious and otherworldly, no wonder we’d been unable to fully comprehend it for millennia thinking it was a superior, divine being. And when we thought we finally did, it turned out - it’s still holding onto some secrets waiting for us to be unveiled. It quite literally sets the rhythm of life on Earth.
We’re talking, of course, about the Sun.
We’ve always known it instinctively on some level. All the biggest holidays, celebrations as well as traditions and rituals, even in the early stages of humanity and societal structures. Hippocrates himself noticed a relationship between sunlight availability in our everyday life and our well-being. And it extends far beyond that first observation.
The Proof's in the Science
Nowadays, we have actual proof based on various studies and quite extensive research that the Greek scholar was onto something. Modern psychology has found a very apt term for what those of us living in slightly colder parts of the world experience pretty much every winter. SAD, otherwise known as seasonal affective disorder or winter depression. We’re not going to go in-depth about this sad issue, however, one of the main triggers is lack of sunlight exposure. And with growing numbers and crushing symptoms – you definitely don’t want to be on the receiving end. This is not something that springs to mind when we hear about the risks associated with sun exposure. Skin cancer, sunburn – yes. But mental issues? Overall well-being? Not so much. And yet, it’s a scientific fact.
The Role of the Sun
Clearly, sunlight helps lift our spirits and frame of mind. But about the body? We’ve got some good news here as well – and not just the fact that we get to look naturally tan. It comes with a wide range of different benefits for our systems, provided we do it in a reasonable manner. There’s no need to sunbathe at all to get all the good stuff – a walk, a hike, some exercise or any outdoor activity will do. In fact, that’s a better choice for our health as well.
So, what are these benefits?
Vitamin D Boost
We’ve all heard about that one, right? But does anybody know what it actually means? Whether your answer here is yes or no, let’s quickly explain what the deal with sunlight and Vitamin D is. We’re all aware that our bodies need it – preferably from natural sources, like food. But our skin actually has the ability to synthesize it, thanks to a photosynthetic reaction, which is triggered by – you guessed it – exposure to UV (or UVB, to be more precise) radiation. Vitamin D is good for our skin and hair, improves bone structure, and the immune system. It’s also believed to rev up metabolism. And all we need for that long list of benefits is incidental exposure.
We’ve already established that sun exposure treats the mind; soothes it. It’s associated with serotonin release, which is a valuable ally in the unfair fight against depression and anxiety or something far less serious like a little winter blues. Sunlight, simply put, improves our mood. Everything looks better. It’s easier to feel energised, motivated and see the world through different, more positive lenses.
This has to do with Vitamin D since without it our bodies are incapable of efficiently absorbing calcium on their own – and calcium, along with phosphorus, is responsible for building and maintaining healthy bones.
Stronger Immune System
Again, it all circles back to Vitamin D and its incredible influence on the body – including our immune systems. How? Well, that’s probably a topic for an average-sized research paper or doctoral thesis, but in a nutshell, it binds to receptors of immune cells and stimulates them to produce peptides, which have antiviral properties. Moreover, it also helps reduce inflammation in our bodies and regulate glucose metabolism.
That serotonin kick you get from spending some time in sunlight? It doesn’t just boost your mood but also helps you get a better, more restful night of sleep. That happens because serotonin goes hand in hand with melatonin, which promotes the state of quiet wakefulness - a sweet spot for falling asleep. If you have some trouble with that or even more serious sleep-related disorders - this might be your solution.
The much-despised culprit of wintertime weight gain has finally been identified by a group of scientists from the University of Alberta. They found it to be the absence of sunlight. It’s not just that it’s associated with low mood and eating more to make ourselves feel better - the blue light in sunlight actually has the ability to ‘burn’ fat stored in our cells. It sort of forces them to reduce in size by storing less fat.
Beauty on the Outside
Let’s not forget about the looks, either. They do matter and they are important to some extent. Standards, requirements, expectations – take them or leave them. Certainly, don’t let them disrupt the way you see and treat yourself. But we’re not talking about any unhealthy takes on beauty - just a little bit of tan. There’s an undeniable charm in a perfectly glowing, sun-kissed skin. Sunlight exposure can help you with that as well – and do so in a safe manner with a line of quality eco tan products, like our very own tanning lotion and oil range.
Save Yourself Some Pain
Let’s flip the script for a minute there and talk about the problems caused by sunlight deficiency. Of course, mood swings, anxiety and in some extreme cases – even depression, and all the wonderful things that come with it. From lack of motivation and tiredness to physical symptoms, like muscle fatigue and pain. Wouldn’t it be so much easier to just spend a little bit of time in the sun?
Rays of Joy
If you stay away from the sun by choice – you’re missing out. And we get it, with all the information about associated risks and consequences in mind, it’s natural to get a little freaked out. But we can take some safety measures and still get all the amazing benefits. Just 5 to 30 minutes of daily sunlight exposure is all we need. Any longer than that and sunscreen is probably a good idea. Now, get out there and catch some of those rays of joy, soak them all up - and enjoy your life!