When you look to nature, it seems as though all life thrives in the sun. Trees soar under the bright sky, prairie grasses wave in the wind and wildflowers dot the land. People, too, thrive in the sun. Serotonin levels skyrocket and depression begins to decrease. A surplus of Vitamin D has even been shown to keep certain diseases away!
Even though it naturally synthesizes in your skin when sunlight is added, Vitamin D can be difficult to come by. About 42% of the population is Vitamin D deficient. This is because much of our lives are lived indoors. This deficit is evident in everything from a lack of energy to irritable moods to health conditions.
It’s a well-known fact that sunlight is important to our health and wellbeing, but how can we fit it into our already busy day when we are on the run from sunup to sundown? As the weather changes, it becomes increasingly harder to get enough sunlight since the days get shorter and the temperature gets colder. Here are some ideas on how to make sure you have enough sunlight in your day so that you can thrive.
Get More Sunlight
Your eyes are key in obtaining enough sunlight to regulate your serotonin levels. Wearing sunglasses in the car may work against you. Car windows already cut up to half of the beneficial rays that could be reaching you, but when you add sunglasses you diminish the benefits of the few minutes that you are in the sun.
Roll down the window, stick out an arm with your sleeve pushed up and take off your sunglasses if you can. If you’re waiting in the car for someone, this might be easier than when you’re driving.
Eat lunch outdoors or have breakfast in a sunny breakfast nook. Take phone calls next to a window or step out on the deck. The longer you can be in the sun, the more Vitamin D your skin can produce and the better you may feel. Aim for 20 to 30 minutes a day as a starting point.
Get a Light Box
If being outside during peak sunny hours is too difficult, consider investing in a light box. Light boxes are very affordable and reaps big rewards. Spending up to 30 minutes a day in front of the light box can make a big difference in the way you feel.
Try starting the lightbox a half hour after you get up. Elevating the box so it shines down on you and is directly in front of you will give you the best coverage while protecting your eyes from undue strain.
If you are feeling anxious, try breathing exercises, meditating or yoga while using the light box. You may find that it curbs some of your anxiety.
Light therapy has been proven to be a mild, safe form of elevating your serotonin, however, if you have a preexisting condition or an eye condition, check with your doctor before starting any light therapy regimens.
Get Vitamin D Supplements
Finally, if getting enough sunlight is a problem, try taking Vitamin D3 supplements. Vitamin D3 is found in oily fish, fish liver oil and egg yolks. Readily available and inexpensive, this vitamin—which is actually a hormone—can help your body in many ways. “A chemical key, it unlocks hundreds of genes that control the day-to-day functioning of your brain, heart, immune cells, bone, skin, nerves, and blood vessels,” says Dr. Stephen S. Ilardi in The Depression Cure. Taken consistently, Vitamin D supplements can help you feel better and thrive, even when sunlight is scarce. The US Institute of Medicine suggests that an average daily intake of 400-800 IU is adequate for 97.5% of individuals. However, there are a lot of variables that can affect how much is needed for everyone. Check with your healthcare provider to find out what daily dose is needed for you.