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

Folic Acid for the Future! posted on Jan 18

Folic Acid for the Future!

We all know the common New Year’s resolutions this time of year: losing weight, getting more organized and catching up on sleep are at the top of many people’s lists!  But chances are, many women, in particular, are overlooking an important addition to their list:   …Continue Reading Folic Acid for the Future!

Weekly Flu Report, January 13, 2017 posted on Jan 13

The latest weekly flu report shows a slight decrease in rates of flu-like illness in Massachusetts over the past 7 days. But flu can be unpredictable, and we’re not likely to see the peak of flu season until February or even March. So if you haven’t gotten a   …Continue Reading Weekly Flu Report, January 13, 2017

Highlights of the January 11th Public Health Council Meeting posted on Jan 11

The first monthly PHC meeting of 2017 featured one Determination of Need (DoN) request, votes on two final amendments to regulations, and an informational briefing on proposed guidelines associated with the Determination of Need program. First, the Council took up a DoN application from Baystate Medical   …Continue Reading Highlights of the January 11th Public Health Council Meeting