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Sunny Delight

field of rapeseed and cloudsI ran outside yesterday — in shorts, in January (still a novelty to a Midwestern transplant to California).  I left for my run feeling cranky (my 2-yr-old daughter woke up six times the night before screaming “MOMMY” at the top of her lungs) and a little bit overwhelmed (trying to catch up on a few projects that fell behind last week); but just thirty minutes later, I felt like a new person.  Endorphins were definitely a factor, but I think something even simpler had the biggest impact of all: sunshine.

I love the sun.  I love feeling its heat on my skin…seeing the starry glistening of rays hitting windows or snow or water…and being underneath a big blue sky that only exists when the sun is fully out in its glory.  It’s calming, energizing, refreshing, inspiring, and grounding – instantly connecting us little specks on the earth to something bigger and grander than we know. Sunshine does have health benefits (great source of vitamin D), but it’s tough to reap them because we need to wear sunscreen to avoid the sun’s dangerous rays (the vitamin D versus sunscreen debate continues to go on, but in general, doctors advise wearing sunscreen).  So let’s focus on the emotional benefit: The brain produces more mood boosting serotonin on sunny days.  

Yup, there is data showing that sunshine makes us feel better (and it’s free and accessible to boot).  But the scary news is, lots of people today rarely see the sun during the day.  People are in offices or factories all day long…windowless buildings in which we sometimes can’t even tell whether it’s sunny or raining cats and dogs.  We often wake up in the dark, go to work in the dark, leave work, and drive home in the dark.  Getting a dose of sunshine is a great micro life improvement we can all take on every single (sunny) day.  There are a lot of things about our lives and our health that are difficult to change or fix, this isn’t one of them.  All we need to do is take a few minutes (15-60) everyday and head outside for play and/or work…think about all of the amazing things you can do while you’re soaking up the sun:

Read the paper.

Eat lunch.

Call your mom.

Walk a mile.

Write a letter.

Meditate.

Have a meeting.

Kick a soccer ball around.

Water the garden.

Wash your windshield.

Pay someone a visit.

Hop on a pogo stick.

Or just lie in the grass.

What do you do to work time outside time into every day?  And if you’re not getting a few rays during the day, take a minute today to think about what indoor activities you might be able to take outside!

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Erin Montagne #

    I really appreciate the fact that we don’t have to go weeks on end without seeing the sun here. I find that my mood is consistently more upbeat now that I don’t have to wait 10 some days at a stretch for a glimpse of the sun. Yesterday Morgan suggested that we eat our lunch outside and it was such a small change that made our lunch experience really fun and pleasant. Several neighbors stopped by to chat too, which was an extra bonus.

    January 29, 2013
  2. Nothing like a winter in London to make you realize how amazing the big blob of burning gases really is. Enjoy it! There is no substitute

    January 29, 2013
    • Josh – Thanks for the comment! Hope you guys have settled in well…can’t wait to hear how things are going.

      January 29, 2013
  3. Sara #

    Our sunny delights are few and far between during Seattle winters, springs and even the fall! So there’s a bit more effort in the happy making dept – but because we’re all in it together it actually does make me feel happy sharing a bond with my fellow drizzly day stroller walkers and downpour runners! AND seeing all the cute doggy rain gear makes me extra happy!

    January 29, 2013

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