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

Keeping Our Food Supply Safe and Wholesome posted on Nov 18

Keeping Our Food Supply Safe and Wholesome

The holiday season is upon us – a time of year when many of our celebrations take place around food. And whether it’s today or any other day, the last thing anyone wants to worry about is whether that food is safe. Thankfully, here in Massachusetts   …Continue Reading Keeping Our Food Supply Safe and Wholesome

The Three Most Important Things to Remember About Stroke posted on Oct 29

The Three Most Important Things to Remember About Stroke

A stroke can be life-changing event and can happen to anyone. Remembering how to prevent stroke and how to recognize signs of stroke is a meaningful way to honor World Stroke Day. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen to the brain   …Continue Reading The Three Most Important Things to Remember About Stroke

Your Best Protection Against the Flu: A Flu Shot posted on Oct 8

Your Best Protection Against the Flu: A Flu Shot

This year, the first full week of October marks the start of Massachusetts’ flu surveillance monitoring and reporting for the 2019-2020 flu season. To monitor flu in the state, DPH uses a variety of disease surveillance methods including lab testing, voluntary reporting by health care   …Continue Reading Your Best Protection Against the Flu: A Flu Shot