Light is nature’s anti-depressant. We are all familiar with the hazards of sun exposure, but not enough sun can also be problematic.
Firstly, lack of light can reduce levels of serotonin (one of the ‘happy’ hormones), resulting in seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as winter depression.
“Sunlight cues special areas in the retina, which triggers the release of serotonin”.https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/benefits-sunlight
Sunshine definitely helps our mood – it’s easy to witness how we Brits seem happier, more relaxed and even friendlier when the sun is shining! No matter what our UK weather is doing, getting outside, whilst combining this with exercise such as walking, even for short periods in low light can help our health. You can also buy a special lamp called a light box which stimulates exposure to sunlight.
Secondly, almost all the vitamin D in our bodies is made by exposing bare skin to sunlight, and research has now shown that the lack of sunlight in the UK, combined with over-use of high factor sun creams, can cause health issues.
“In the UK, sunlight doesn’t contain enough UVB radiation in winter (October to early March) for our skin to be able to make vitamin D.”https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/how-to-get-vitamin-d-from-sunlight/
Vitamin D is necessary for the absorption of calcium to make healthy bones, and it can also boost the immune system, alleviate depression, and can help in the prevention of cancer and autoimmune diseases. If you suffer from low mood during winter months, try taking a D3 vitamin supplement; it is almost impossible to get sufficient vitamin D from our diet.
By: Wendy Bramham
See also our related article: https://www.bramhamtherapy.co.uk/building-emotional-resilience-staying-well-2018/