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Sunlight: Prescription for happiness

1Maybe it’s Monday, maybe you didn’t sleep very well, maybe nothing is wrong but you feel like it’s just going to be a bad day. Whatever it is that is bringing you down is natural, so why not fix it with something that too is completely natural? I’m talking about sunshine.

Before you laugh or stop reading it is actually scientifically proven that sunshine, or weather in general, can affect a person’s mood.

2According to an article in the International Journal of Bio Meteorology, “…human moods and productivity appear to be affected by weather…” The study showed that those with mental illnesses reacted differently to the sunlight based on their mental state, but people without signs of mental illnesses proved to have an all-around better mood when the sun was shining.

As a side note to all the women, the study showed that males had a relatively stronger effect than females. Maybe men are just as emotional as us but are better at hiding it.

An online website called How Stuff Works explains the science behind questions many people have. One of their articles talked about the exact form of depression associated with variations in sunlight. It’s called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). “Someone with SAD might feel perfectly fine in spring and summer, and then experience a severe downturn in mood when fall hits. They’ll stay that way through the winter, until the sun comes out again in full force,” the article says.

3If this isn’t enough for you to believe sunshine affects moods, let’s take a look at another article from the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience. The article is about increasing serotonin in the human brain without using drugs. Focusing on many areas, the article highlights seasons, again, having an affect on the brain. It says, “In human postmortem brain, serotonin levels are higher in those who died in summer than in those who died in winter”. Specifically, the author, Young, links the sunshine in the summer to higher serotonin levels or higher levels of happiness.

Don’t be sad, and definitely help yourself if you have SAD. Get outside, enjoy the sun during the months you can.

Last thing, too much sunshine can be dangerous too. While I suggest you take advantage of sunny, warm days, make sure you’re being safe and avoiding skin cancer at all costs. As the American Cancer Society suggests, “Slip on a shirt. Slop on sunscreen. Slap on a hat. Wrap on sunglasses.”

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