Exploring the bright side: Effects of sunlight on mental health
From time immemorial, the health benefits of exposure to sunlight have been often spoken about. Here are 5 ways in which it affects your mental health.
Who doesn’t like it when the first rays of sunlight, make its way through the maze of trees and clouds and gently lands on their face, bringing with it warmth, comfort and joy? One of the easiest ways to lighten up and brighten up your day and not just quite literally, is by spending some time outside.
According to research by the National Institute of Health, there is indeed a positive association between exposure to sunlight and mental health.
Here are five ways in which sunlight affects your mental health:
Increased serotonin levels
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter which is often associated with feelings of happiness, satisfaction, and well-being. It also helps in reducing stress and anxiety and enhances your mood. You might wonder, how does sunlight come into play here? Well, sunlight plays a vital role in the stimulation of serotonin. Exposure to sunlight triggers your brain to produce this feel-good neurotransmitter.
This is also one of the reasons why taking a walk outdoors during the day time is often recommended; especially to people dealing with anxiety and depression.
Production of vitamin D
If you have had a Vitamin D deficiency at any point, one of the first things your doctor would have advised you to do is get some sunlight! Well, Vitamin D is essential for your physical health and in keeping your bones strong, but did you know that it is also linked to your happiness? Yes, it helps improve your mood and it is also beneficial for people who struggle with depression. Vitamin D also helps in the production of Serotonin which adds to this as well.
Regulation of the body’s internal clock
We are more often than not surrounded by artificial light which interferes with the body’s internal clock. It delays the circadian clock and thereby disrupts your sleep cycle as well. This internal clock is responsible for your sleep patterns, mood and well-being. Exposure to light is a signal to stay awake and darkness is for sleep. Getting exposure to natural light during the daytime helps balance your internal clock and improves your sleep cycle. Simultaneously, reduced late-night exposure to gadgets and devices also contributes to this. This will definitely boost your physical and mental state of being.
Seasonal affective disorder
Do you feel gloomy and tired during winters? This is probably due to SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder which is seen during autumn and winter when you receive reduced exposure to sunlight. There have also been links found between one’s Vitamin D levels and SAD. So don’t forget to get enough sunlight whenever possible!
A quick walk in the park can do wonders. Spending quality time outdoors, surrounded by nature, fresh air and sunlight has proven to be a stress buster. Just 20 minutes of this can reduce your cortisol levels which directly contribute to stress.