Post Content

AlisonBrill Posted by Alison T. Brill, MPH, Community Suicide Prevention Coordinator at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health

Imagine the feeling of the sun shining on your face, showering you with warmth and life. Feel good? The sun awakens the senses and breathes life into our spirit. Sunshine isn’t always easy to catch, especially here in New England. Picture me racing block to block trying to find a sliver of sunlight in between the concrete jungle in downtown Boston. Now that you’ve had a good laugh, let’s talk about just how important sunlight is to our health.                                                    SunDrawnWithPaint2

Many of us have heard that sunlight is a crucial source of vitamin D, which strengthens bones and the immune system. Lack of vitamin D has been linked to muscle pain and weakness, multiple sclerosis, and some forms of cancer. Time spent in the sun, however, can lift your mood naturally by increasing levels of the brain’s natural mood-lifting chemical, serotonin. Many people feel more depressed in the colder months, and what some call the “Winter Blues” is directly related to lack of sunlight. Sunlight is so powerful that it can ease depression for some people, as the brain produces more serotonin on sunny days than on darker days.

And that's not all. The sun encourages us to get outside more often and be active, which in turn improves mood. Sunlight also helps us sleep more soundly, as natural light helps to regulate our internal clocks and keep them on track.  

It can be hard to find time to get outside for natural sunlight during the winter months. But please note: tanning beds are not a safe alternative to natural sunlight. In fact, their harmful UV rays have been linked to the deadliest forms of skin cancer. If you’ll be out in the sun longer than 10-15 minutes, make sure to grab your shades and apply a sunscreen of at least SPF 15, which helps protect you from the sun's harmful Ultraviolet (UV) light. Find a list of safe and effective sunscreens here.

Even on chilly days, I find that when I face the sun, breathe deeply, and feel its warmth, I’m not actually cold. And when I return to my indoor activities, I feel refreshed and more alive. So go out and catch those rays whenever you can, and notice how you feel! 

                         WomanJoyfulField
    

Tags: , , , ,

Recent Posts

Parents: Why It’s Best to Follow the Recommended Immunization Schedule posted on Apr 23

Parents: Why It’s Best to Follow the Recommended Immunization Schedule

Most parents vaccinate their children according to CDC’s recommended immunization schedule, protecting them from 14 potentially serious diseases before their second birthday. We are lucky in Massachusetts that we have high vaccination coverage for the majority of recommended vaccines. In fact, for children 19-35 months of   …Continue Reading Parents: Why It’s Best to Follow the Recommended Immunization Schedule

Weekly Flu Report, April 20, 2018 posted on Apr 20

Rates of flu-like illness rose slightly over the past seven days, according to the latest weekly flu report. There is still flu vaccine available if you have not gotten a flu shot. Call your healthcare provider or visit https://vaccinefinder.org which offers listings for local boards of health   …Continue Reading Weekly Flu Report, April 20, 2018

Help Your Teen Recognize and Address Sexual Harassment at Work posted on Apr 19

Help Your Teen Recognize and Address Sexual Harassment at Work

The topic of sexual harassment has received increased visibility in recent months. The #metoo and #timesup movements have inspired many people of all ages to speak about their experiences of sexual violence on social media. Some who have read and shared these stories remember a time in   …Continue Reading Help Your Teen Recognize and Address Sexual Harassment at Work