Get Outside in the Sunshine!

The past week was extremely busy. I thought the week was going to be free of appointments only to have my scheduled hi-jacked by life and totally out of my control. The result was a week of rushing here and there, barely getting to sit down between breakfast and bedtime, and no writing time at all. It’s bad enough when life refuses to give me time to work on my novel, but I had a blog post due on Friday, so by this morning (Thursday morning) I was desperate – I had to find time to write.

My plan was to write a blog post on story themes and whether they are needed or not. I had been writing the post in my head for most of the week, but I hadn’t had the time to do the reading I wanted to do or finalize what I wanted to say.  When I sat down to write, the words wouldn’t flow. I struggled valiantly for a while trying to make it work, but nothing seemed to help, so Toby and I went outside.

The weather was beautiful today. It was bright and sunny, low humidity, and temperatures in the low 70s. The wind was active, moving the trees around and making music through their leaves. It was glorious outside. Toby and I played Frisbee then I spent time just wandering and taking pictures. Nothing special. None of the pictures I took are going to take your breath away or make you think they belong in a photography magazine. Instead, they reflect the peace that I found wandering outside in the sunshine.

Our world is so focused on technology and getting things done. We spend hours at our desks in our artificially lighted rooms, some of which don’t even have windows. Jobs can be rewarding, and hopefully you enjoy what you do for a living – I know I enjoy writing fiction – but sometimes we just need to take a break and get outside.

“Imagine lying in a windswept meadow with soft, diffused sun rays beaming down on you and a gentle breeze blowing around you. It’s a calming scene for many. We tend to associate sunshine and fresh air with happiness and peace." (Conversational, 2016)

That’s what I did. I wandered through woods filled with diffused sunlight, the breeze stroking the tension from skin, and I could feel my muscles unwinding and my soul beginning to heal from the ravages of the hectic week.

“Sunlight and darkness trigger the release of hormones in your brain. Exposure to sunlight is thought to increase the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin. This is associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused. At night, darker lighting cues trigger the brain to make another hormone called melatonin. This hormone is responsible for helping a person feel sleepy and go to sleep. …

The light-induced effects of serotonin are triggered by sunlight that goes through the eye. Sunlight cues special areas in the retina, which triggers the release of serotonin.” (Rachel Nall, 2015)

There are other benefits to moderate sunlight exposure. Studies show that sunlight is a natural disinfectant.

"When microbes that cause infection and disease are exposed to natural sunlight for extended periods of time, the Journal of Hospital Infection states that “…the majority of microbes that cause airborne infections cannot tolerate sunlight.” (Conversational, 2016)

It can also improve our health through Vitamin D.

“Exposure to the ultraviolet-B radiation in the sun’s rays causes a person’s skin to create vitamin D. According to a study, in a 30-minute period while wearing a swimsuit, people will make the following vitamin D levels:

  • 50,000 international units (IUs) in most Caucasian people
  • 20,000 to 30,000 IUs in tanned people
  • 8,000 to 10,000 IUs in dark skinned people” (Conversational, 2016)

 

“Studies seem to show that individuals with higher levels of vitamin D have lower cholesterol levels and are generally healthier overall than individuals with low levels of vitamin D.” (wiseGEEK)

“… The same DNA-damaging, sunburn-causing UVB wavelengths that sunscreens are designed to block also do some good: They kick off the chemical and metabolic chain reaction that produces vitamin D. Research shows that many people have low vitamin D levels. There is a well-documented relationship between low vitamin D levels and poor bone health. Now links have been made to everything from multiple sclerosis to prostate cancer. "Linking" low vitamin D with these diseases doesn't prove cause-and-effect, but it suggests that possibility. Getting some sun may also shake off the wintertime blues: Research suggests that light hitting your skin, not just your eyes, helps reverse seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Moreover, being outside gets us golfing, gardening, and engaging in other types of physical activity.” (Harvard, 2017)

Scientist are beginning to believe that the Vitamin D we get from moderate exposure to the sun helps with much more than bone strength. Several of the resources listed below indicated that moderate exposure to sunlight was such a benefit to our health that it is more effective than any medicine. (Editor, 2010)

I don’t know whether a 30-minute walk in the sunlight every day will lower my blood pressure and my cholesterol, make my bones stronger, and protect me from multiple sclerosis and some forms of cancer or not, but I do know that it has healing powers. My trip into the sunshine helped me so much I decided to change my blog topic and write about getting out into the sunshine instead. I’ll even share some of my pictures. I hope they give you at least a tiny bit of the peace that my walk in the sunshine gave me, but don’t rely on my pictures alone. Get out in the sunshine and get some of the benefits for yourself.

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