Finding Sunlight: The Importance of Sun for Our Mental Health
Sunlight is essential for boosting Vitamin D in the body, keeping our body clock in check and preventing the onset of depressive disorders like SAD. Without getting enough sunlight, our body can respond negatively, allowing depressive thoughts and feelings to plague our mind. In winter, people are more at risk from this with fewer daylight hours and exposure to sunlight. As a result, 1 in 3 people suffer from SAD annually.
SAD – seasonal affective disorder – is a type of depression which primarily attacks in the winter months. It causes a shift in mood during this time, with depression dominating a sufferer’s life. During these months, people who suffer from SAD can lose motivation, happiness and even energy for weeks at a time.
However, if people stay inside for long periods and don’t get enough Vitamin D in their body, depression can affect them throughout the year. And, with lockdown keeping us trapped within our homes for most of the day, it is more important than ever we are seeking sunlight or alternative Vitamin D supplements.
Please keep reading to learn more about the importance of sunlight for our mental health and how you can seek extra support while we are kept inside because of Covid-19.
The Benefits of Vitamin D
When your skin is exposed to sunlight, it makes Vitamin D from cholesterol. The sun’s ultraviolet B rays hit cholesterol in the skills cells, which provides the energy for Vitamin D synthesis to occur. Vitamin D supports proper brain functioning, it regulates our body clock and prevents the onset of depressive disorders. It is essential for the proper functioning of both our mind and body.
In the UK, it is estimated that around 13 minutes of midday sunlight exposure during the summertime is enough to maintain healthy levels of Vitamin D in Caucasian adults. Midday sunlight is the best as the rays are at their strongest, meaning you need to spend less time exposed to gain the benefits.
But how exactly does this exposure help our mental health? Studies have shown that Vitamin D can play an essential role in regulating mood and warding off depression. In fact, one study found that people with depression who received Vitamin D supplements noticed an improvement in their symptoms.
Alternative Vitamin D Sources
However, if we can’t gain the right amount of sunlight exposure we need you might be asking how can we get more Vitamin D? A handful of foods have Vitamin D in them which can boost our intake and ensure our Vitamin D levels remain maintained at an appropriate level.
- Oily fish such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel
- Red meat
- Egg yolks
- Fortified foods like some fat spreads and breakfast cereals
Alternatively, you could always increase your Vitamin D intake via dietary supplements available at most supermarkets.
Mental Health Support
Sometimes, seeking Vitamin D is not enough to ward off depression and protect our mental health. Past trauma, environment, toxic relationships, social media and abuse can all affect the way we think and feel, and sunlight is not enough to prevent these situations from causing severe mental health issues.
This is where therapy can be beneficial. With expert support and guidance, you can understand the root cause of your depression and understand how you can overcome your mental health issue. With experience working with hundreds of people suffering from depression, I know how to approach a situation where a sufferer feels like they want to give up at every corner. My ongoing support, compassionate ear and informed advice ensure that you feel supported through every step and look to a brighter future.
Please take a look at my website to learn more about my services as a therapist and how I can support your mental health journey. Times are tough with lockdown keeping us in the home and not much around us to be happy about. Therapy is a great way to keep our mood boosted through this pandemic and beyond.