There is no shadow of doubt that the glorious weather we’ve been enjoying over recent weeks has definitely lifted our spirits and made us human beings so much happier – in body, mind & spirit . There’s plenty of research out there that proves the sun’s rays are, generally, extremely good for physical and mental health. While too much UVA (the AGEING ray) or UVB (the BURNING ray) may not be good for us, we can all agree that, in protected moderation (plenty of factor 50 sunscreen & a floppy hat) experiencing the sun on our face and the gentle sea breeze in our hair, is good for the heart & soul – right?
Sunshine brings happiness and happiness is just like jam – you can’t spread even a little, without getting some on yourself!
Which reminds me of that lovely story of the professor & the balloons…a university lecturer gave each of his students a balloon and asked them to inflate it, write their name on it and then throw it in the hallway.
The professor then mixed all the balloons and instructed the students to go and find their own balloon within a 5-min time-frame.
Despite a hectic search, not ONE student had found their balloon when the 5 min alarm went off.
At that point, the professor told the students to take the first balloon that they found and hand it to the person whose name was written on it.
Within 5 minutes, everyone had their own balloon back in their hand!
The professor said to the students: “These balloons are like happiness. We will never find it if we are only looking for our own – yet, if we care about other peoples’ happiness, we will find ours too.”
So, let’s consider 7 GOLDEN NUGGETS that can easily brighten YOUR day – and everyone else’s around you….
1.Being outdoors in the sunshine can lift your spirits and reduce stress
A recent study on how weather affects mood, found that people who spent at least 30 minutes outside in pleasant weather, experienced happier and more positive moods.
The research also found that being outside could lead to a better mindset and reduced stress. If we’ve been stuck inside and the sun is shining outside, how much of a mood boost is it to get some fresh air and feel the sun shining on your face?
2. You’re generally happier when the days are longer
How much more motivated do you feel to go out in the evening and do something when the sun is shining and it’s light still versus being cold, dark and miserable!?
“People simply feel better when the days are longer and when there’s more available sunshine. The winter variety of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is mostly tied to how long the day is and those extra hours of sunlight make a really big difference”: Kelly Rohan, Professor of Psychiatric Science, University of Vermont
3.Serotonin levels are much higher in sunlight
It’s true that you feel more lazy and lethargic in the winter. When the weather is cold and the days are short, there are fewer appealing opportunities to get outside. Going out and leaving the house seems so much more of an effort.
It’s so much easier to stay inside on the sofa, watch TV and not do much. Who’s guilty of the box set marathon and ordering a takeaway, to loz on the sofa – because dark days definitely make us more sleepy, right?
Exposure to sunlight is thought to increase the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused.
At night, darker lighting triggers the brain to make another hormone called melatonin. This hormone is responsible for helping you sleep. Sunlight cues special areas in the retina, which triggers the release of serotonin.
So, you’re more likely to experience seasonal depression in the winter time, when the days are shorter.
4. You are likely to exercise more during the warmer months
What better way to exercise than outside in the sunshine? In the sunnier months people take up a more active lifestyle and exercise can lead to a boost in endorphins – the same feel-good chemicals that come from warmer weather.
There are a wider range of outdoor sports available when the sun is shining – it’s not much fun playing a tennis match in the dark and rain, is it!?
5. Warm weather may make you more inventive
So it’s not just sunshine and happiness that are interlinked. Warm weather can also bring out our positivity and creative skills more.
A psychological study also found that being outdoors in enjoyable climates can improve memory and broaden cognitive style, which is linked to more creative thinking and positive mindset.
6. You’re likely to be more sociable when it’s sunny
No one wants to be stuck inside when the sun is shining, that’s when the fear of missing out (FOMO) can creep in!
Group picnics in the park, trips to the beach, al fresco dining, cocktails on the decking – who wouldn’t want to be involved!? Spending time with friends and family is good for the soul and helps lift our mood.
7. You’re kinder when you feel happy – and sunshine brings happiness!
The kindness hormone (or Oxytocin to give it it’s scientific name) acts like a dimmer switch to stress.
In a scientific study conducted at University College, London, volunteers were shown a series of different human faces displaying a range of emotions. The scientists used an MRI scan during the experiment to observe which parts of the brain were stimulated as stress, and fear-inducing pictures were shown.
Before the experiment half of the volunteers were given a dose of Oxytocin, and half were given a placebo. Those who were given the placebo had a negative reaction to the potentially stressful images whilst the volunteers who had been given the Oxytocin had a significantly reduced activation.
By turning down the stress hormone in our system, Oxytocin helps us to stay happier. The good news is that there are a few things you can do to boost your levels of Oxytocin….
– Watching inspirational movies
– Doing things for others (random Acts of Kindness)
– Complimenting others
– Giving Birth (although you’ll have to wait for around nine months for this one to kick in )
Until next time – keep smiling & stay FIT!