The first days of sunshine in London and it’s like the city becomes a different place. Strangers talk to each other and people walk around with smiles on their faces. My energy levels lift completely with a few sunny days and the start of light evenings. Suddenly I feel I have more time to get things done rather than thinking about bedtime from around 8.30pm. My experience is pretty common. So why does sunshine make us happier?
In my case, it’s not the cold weather which tends to affect my mood, but the lack of daylight, which leads to feeling tired and run down. For people who work in offices and start and end their day in darkness, these feelings are even worse. I have to remind myself to go out at lunch just to make sure I see some daylight.
Why does sunshine make us happier?
Sunshine is a natural mood boost
Time in the sun is thought to increase the release of serotonin, which boosts our mood and helps us feel calm and focused. This is one of the reasons why we’re encouraged to go out in during the day to ensure we’re seeing daylight and getting a natural serotonin boost. It’s also good for our circadian rhythm (the part of our brain that makes us feel tired at night and awake during the day).
It’s a natural form of vitamin D
Exposure to sunlight also gives us a daily dose of Vitamin D which can be hard to get from foods alone. Vitamin D promotes healthy cell and bone growth, reduces inflammation, and helps to stimulate our immune function. Just 20 minutes of exposure to sunshine a day has real health benefits (people with darker skin need longer). Exposure to the sun can lower blood pressure, help create stronger bones and teeth, reduce the risk of some cancers and can help with skin conditions.
Sunshine encourages good habits
The sunshine makes us want to be physically healthier, as well as emotionally. Salad starts to become a viable food order instead of just a garnish. It spurs us on to start exercising – if only because it’s nice just to be outdoors.
Let’s take advantage while we can.