Self care part 4: Sunshine

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In caring for ourselves, we often don’t know where to start.  The acronym of NEW START can help.  The 4th letter stands for:


Have you ever noticed how much better you feel after spending time outside on a sunny day? The sun is a powerful force that affects nearly every aspect of our lives. From providing warmth and light to powering our plants and ecosystems, the sun is an essential part of our world. But did you know that the sun also has a profound impact on our mental health?

Vitamin D synthesis: Sun exposure stimulates our bodies to produce vitamin D, and deficiency has been associated with an increased risk of depression and other mental health disorders.

Serotonin production: Sunlight triggers the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter known as the “happy hormone.” Serotonin helps regulate mood, appetite, sleep, and emotional balance.

Circadian rhythm regulation: Exposure to natural light helps regulate our internal body clock, known as the circadian rhythm. A well-regulated circadian rhythm supports healthy sleep patterns, which are vital for maintaining mental health and reducing symptoms of mood disorders.

Increased energy and motivation: Sunlight can boost energy levels and improve motivation. Sunlight exposure during the day helps combat fatigue and lethargy, enhancing productivity and overall mental well-being.

Stress reduction: Being outdoors and basking in the sun can promote relaxation and reduce stress levels. Sunlight triggers the release of endorphins, which are natural mood boosters and stress relievers. It can also reduce the production of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress.

Enhanced cognitive function: Sunlight exposure has been linked to improved cognitive function, including better memory, attention, and concentration. Sunlight helps optimize brain performance, leading to increased mental clarity and productivity.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) prevention: Sunlight exposure is particularly beneficial for individuals with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression that occurs during certain seasons, typically in the winter when sunlight is limited. Increased exposure to sunlight can alleviate symptoms of SAD and improve overall mood. If you don’t have access consider getting a SAD (full spectrum) lamp to help.

The National Institutes of Health even goes as far as to suggest that people who have schizophrenia will have shorter hospital stays if placed in rooms with lots of natural light vs rooms without windows….

So go outside and get your vitamins!!!

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