While the official start of summer is not here yet, it definitely feels like it is! With the warmer temperatures, the full force of the sun is out too. There are so many messages out there that warn you about overexposure to the sun. Those claims are true, but they often stop people from getting the Vitamin D that they need from the sun. The benefits of sunlight are incredible. Here are just a few to start with:
- Sunlight creates Vitamin D which helps improve bone health
- Sunlight can help shake off the blues. Light hitting your skin, not just your eyes helps reverse seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
- A combination of sunlight and whole food can send breast cancer into remission
- Under exposure to sunlight can lead to significant health risks, similar to obesity, smoking, or being sedentary
- Sunlight touching your skin releases nitric oxide which brings blood pressure down, ad in the process can lower the risk of heart attack and stroke.
It is important to guard yourself from getting too much sun, but many people miss that it is also vital to get an adequate amount of Vitamin D, especially as you grieve. To help you do just that, here are 5 tips to making the most of your summer sun while you are mourning.
Tip #1: Get outside
Taking a Vitamin D supplement is good if you aren’t able to get outside but research has shown that sunshine is more productive at making Vitamin D for your body. Take the summer as a chance to get outside and connect with nature. Sunlight tells your body to release hormones that make you feel better and lessen depression. Even if you can simply eat your lunch out on the patio. Your body will benefit from the sunlight.
Tip #2: Exercise while the sun is up
Choose a time to exercise when the heat isn’t exhausting but the sun is still out so you can get a double dose of serotonin and endorphins. Exercise is said to be one of the most effective ways to improve your mental health. Consistent exercise can have a distinct positive impact when you’re grieving. It relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better and boosts your overall mood. Combining the power of the sun with exercise will help you process life as your grieve.
Tip #3: Eat well out on the patio
We are all conscious of what we should be doing: eating more fruits, vegetables, and protein and cutting down on fat, sugar and processed products. Sometimes in grief, it can be especially hard to focus on eating a healthy diet. The food that we put into our bodies is the fuel that it runs on. If we put low-grade fuel into an expensive car, it will eventually show! Obviously, the fuel we eat affects our mental health as well as our physical health. To make eating healthy more fun, sit in the sun on the patio while you do it! Enjoy the fresh air, the sunlight and the healthy food.
Tip #4: Wait to put the sunglasses on
When sunlight hits the retina, the production of serotonin begins. Waiting to put your shades on for just a few minutes can boost the effect of sunlight on your body. When you do this, you are also setting yourself up to have better sleep at night. The sun exposure you get during the day helps your circadian rhythm so you get better sleep.
Tip #5: Use the sun smartly
The benefits of sunlight don’t take away the risks that are still involved with over exposure. Taking 10-20 minutes a day outside with no sunscreen is about the max of what is healthy. Knowing your skin type and age can factor into the equation as well. If you plan to be outside longer than that, simply consider using a sunblock (15-20 PF), wearing a shirt and hat around midday.
If you have a schedule that keeps you out of the sun most days, you can still reap benefits of Vitamin D. Using a sun lamp or taking a Vitamin D supplement will still give you many of the benefits listed above. Get outside when you can and enjoy the fine midwest weather.
Have any other tips and tricks for harnessing the sun while grieving? We’d love to hear your comments!