Soak Up The Sun To Boost Your Mind

February 2019, Xtend-Life Expert

Summary

Taking care of your mental wellbeing is a vital part of practicing self-care. But with the constant stresses and ups and downs of life, feeling upbeat can sometimes be challenging. What if boosting your mood was as easy as catching some rays?

A positive outlook is vital for wellbeing. Research shows that higher levels of happiness are associated with lower heart rate and blood pressure[1], better immunity[2][3] and even longer lifespan[4].

But although we know a positive mind set is important, when you’re going through a challenging patch at work or in a relationship, it can sometimes be difficult to imagine feeling more optimistic. What if boosting your mood was as easy as stepping outside?

Sunshine: Your fast-track to happiness

Getting outdoors gives us a healthy dose of Vitamin D, the hormone-like vitamin produced when our eyes and skin are exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D triggers the release of serotonin, our feel-good neurotransmitter which helps boost mood, relieve anxiety and promote restful sleep. Lack of sunlight and the associated reduced levels of serotonin are believed to be the cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). [5]

So how much sunshine do you need to enjoy the mood-boosting benefits?

According to experts, just 15 minutes a day with arms and legs exposed is enough, so why not wake up a little earlier and start the day by watching the sunrise? Or enjoy an evening stroll after work?

We get the most benefit from sunlight at midday when the sun is highest in the sky, so if you can, leave the office and take your lunch outdoors or head out for a walk around the block at lunchtime. The UV rays from sunlight also trigger the release of nitric oxide from the skin, helping boost mood. While normally associated with blood pressure, nitric oxide also helps regulate major neurotransmitters like norepinephrine, serotonin, dopamine and glutamate, which are involved in major depression.[6]

    References:

    [1] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0197458005002769
    [2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12883117
    [3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3585705
    [4] https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/psp805804.pdf
    [5] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651
    [6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21335097
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