man exercising under the sun

Benefits of the Sun: How Sunlight Affects Your Mental Health

You’re used to hearing how the sun can harm your skin, head, and eyes, but did you know sunlight affects your mental health, too? Your sunny friend releases happy hormones in your brain called serotonin. Serotonin is responsible for improving your mood, making you feel calm, and boosting your focus and attention.

Less sun exposure can trigger depression and negative emotions as studies have found. But, that doesn’t mean you have to stand directly under the sun and trigger your cancer cells. For instance, you can take a daily walk early mornings (around 6AM to 9AM) or create a controlled sunny room environment to catch enough sunlight in your life.

How sunlight affects your mental health

Have you noticed how darkness plays an important role not only in sleep, but also in sadness, fear, or anxiety? There’s some truth on how the media portrays darkness because it’s all based on science.

Sunlight serves as an antidepressant because it produces mood-boosting hormones that trigger happiness. You’ve heard of the term, “sunny and bright disposition,” and that’s where it came from. Studies show that the lack of sunlight reduces serotonin levels which leads to heightened moodiness, sleeping, fatigue, or low interest in activities.

Low-lighting or dark areas can induce the hormone, melatonin. Melatonin is the one responsible for our body’s sleep cycle. That’s why during dark, rainy days, we just want to stay in bed and sleep.

Also, low-light areas can create SAD – seasonal affective disorder – a season characterized by days with fewer daylight hours and sunlight. People around the world suffer from SAD as a result of the winter months.

In this line, people with depression, anxiety, and panic attacks sometimes take phototherapy – light therapy – to boost their mood.

For women, exposure to daylight can also benefit those who have premenstrual dysphoric condition and prenatal to postnatal depression. That’s how huge sunlight affects your mental health.

man doing push-ups in the morning beach shows how sunlight affects your mental health

More benefits of sunlight

Too much sun can be dangerous – that’s true. However, sun exposure (even minimal) can benefit you as well. Soaking up some sunshine can do wonders for your mind and emotions.

Prevents cancer

What? You thought the sun causes cancer, right? True. But, a controlled and moderate amount of sunshine has preventive benefits as well. For instance, research found that people with low Vitamin D are prone to colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, or prostate cancer. So, even a 5-minute walk early in the morning can battle those cancer cells.

Boosts bone strength

Vitamin D, from the sun, has an active role in building strong bones in the body – that, we know. One artist talks of how she was diagnosed with low Vitamin D and had to wear a cask for her feet because her bones were too brittle.

She would always work in a dark room and refuse to go out unless needed. Other than her brittle bones, she was overweight and depressed. Her doctor prescribed her with some Vitamin D medication, light exercises, and a walk under the sun for at least 10 minutes. Now, that shows how sunlight affects your mental health, emotions, and physical being.

Heals various skin conditions

In a study conducted by the World Health Organization, a healthy dose of sunshine can treat different skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Some dermatologists even incorporate light therapy to treat skin problems.

Improves quality of sleep

Sunlight can reset your body’s circadian rhythm, thus, improving your sleep at night. That’s because the hormone serotonin excretes when you soak under the sun and boosts your mood and energy. Meanwhile, it also works in tandem with your melatonin to ready the body to sleep at night.

Lowers blood pressure

Sunlight affects your mental health and creates nitric oxide in the body which, in effect, lowers blood pressure, thus, preventing cardiac diseases. What’s more, some warmth can bring relaxation and happiness which also lower blood pressure.

As always, use proper precautions and make sure to visit your doctor for regular skin examinations to be sure you’re not at risk for skin cancer.

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