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How Does Sunlight Affect Your Mood

October 29, 2016 - Stephanie Franklin

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Do you feel gloom when the day is rainy and gray? For those of us who live in the north, seasonal depression can be real and devastating. Even if you have not been diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder (SAD),  you still may have felt your moods change when the days get shorter and sunlight is in short supply. Sunlight is nature’s way to regular our body’s rhythm, it’s true for humans and animals alike. When the sun is out on a bright sunny day, we want to go out and explore, exercise, or interact with other people. When it’s cold, rainy and gray, all we want to do is stay home, cuddle up with a good book or movie and hibernate. Have you felt this way before? Or do you know anyone who feel this way?

Lack of sunlight can make you more irritable, anxious, tired, and want to eat more. You may also notice that it’s more difficult to concentrate on tasks and even find it difficult to have conversations with people especially new acquaintances. The affects of mild to moderate seasonal affective disorder can span many aspects of your life, from physical to emotional to social spheres. But surprisingly, there are several effective ways to manage seasonal affective disorder, or even if you have not been diagnosed, these tips might help improve your mood in the cold dark winter days.

Light therapy is a proven method to improve mood and balance the circadian rhythm. You can speak to your doctor and purchase a light box. Sitting in front of a spectrum balanced light box for a few minutes to hours per day can dramatically improve your mood and give you energy you never thought you had. Simple things like keeping your house well-lit in the early morning and evening time may also help improve symptoms. Finding time to take advantage of the outdoor sunlight when it is available can also offer tremendous benefits. Go hiking, biking, or just walk around the neighborhood when the sun is out. Even if it’s a little cloudy, just being out of the house will expose you to more light than inside.

Another tip is to find a friend who have the same heathy goals as you. Buddy up and go for walks together. We are much more likely to stick to a therapy or exercise routine when we have a friend who can keep each other accountable. So get outside, improve your indoor lighting, and purchase a light box if needed. Don’t let seasonal depression take over your life. Try these simple changes in your life to reap the benefits of a happier and more productive you.

Stephanie Franklin