The Positive Effects of Sunshine
June 02, 2017
By Emili Sargeant, Life Enrichment Director, Meadows Mennonite Retirement Community
Finally, it’s that time of year again. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and the air smells like freshly cut grass. Many eagerly anticipate the arrival of spring and summer weather, especially those who deal with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also called Seasonal Depression. Symptoms of Seasonal Depression relate directly to changes in seasons and begin and end about the same time each year. Most people with Seasonal Depression experience symptoms beginning in the fall and lasting throughout the winter months.
People may experience an opposite pattern, with symptoms during the spring and summer, but this is significantly less common.
Symptoms of Seasonal Depression include feeling sad, moody, or irritable, having low energy, losing interest in activities, as well as experiencing problems with sleep, changes in appetite, and difficulty concentrating. Symptoms are usually relieved during the sunnier days of spring and summer. Treatment for Seasonal Depression may include use of medications, psychotherapy, and light therapy, with research showing a little bit of sunshine can go a long way.
Sunlight has many benefits and has even been said to have healing powers in its own unique way. In 1903, Nobel Prize winner Miles Finsen discovered the ability to kill bad bacteria using the sun’s light. Soldiers of World War I knew of Finsen’s discovery and used sunlight to help disinfect and heal wounds. Not only did it help wounds, it also has a beneficial effect on skin disorders, such as psoriasis, acne, eczema, and fungal infections of the skin.
Today’s leading cereal brands aren’t the only thing that can lower your cholesterol, believe it or not, the sun can too! The sun converts high cholesterol in the blood into steroid hormones. In the absence of sunlight, the opposite happens, with substances converting to cholesterol.
Along with cholesterol, the sun’s rays have also been known to lower blood pressure. When our skin is exposed to the sun, nitric oxide is released through our blood vessels, causing blood vessels to widen, resulting in lower blood pressure.
Another known benefit is being woken up gradually by the sun’s natural light, which naturally switches off melatonin, the hormone that stimulates sleep. Reducing melatonin levels may improve one’s energy and mood. And Vitamin D, which is crucial for overall good heath, including memory, can only be produced by the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight. There are many benefits of well-managed exposure to sunlight on one’s health and wellbeing. So, get out there and enjoy that summer sun!
For more information about senior living at Meadows Communities, contact Holly Hall, Executive Director/Chief Marketing Officer, at 309-268-1501. Meadows Communities offers a full range of senior living options — independent living, Independent Living-Plus!, assisted living, skilled nursing care, Moments Memory Care, respite care, and Achieve! Wellness and Rehab Therapy — with two locations: Meadows Mennonite Retirement Community in Chenoa and Meadows at Mercy Creek in Normal. Visit www.meadowscommunities.org to learn more.
(Source included in this article: www.mayoclinic.org)
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