Sunlight and Depression...What's the Connection?
"And the light shines on in the darkness, but the darkness has not mastered it." John 1:5
Depression and its affects can be a devastating blow to anyone. It is invasive and can take a person from standing tall in their life to hunched over, mentally and physically, rapidly. It is not our fault when we struggle with depression, but it becomes our responsibility to decide what we will do with it--or won't. Left untreated, depression can cripple us, but there is hope--even the creation can help us battle against depression. But what is depression?
Depression is a mood disorder that can affect people of all ages and backgrounds. It is estimated that over 300 million people worldwide suffer from depression, making it one of the most common mental health conditions.
That is a lot of people doing battle against their depression daily.
While there are many treatment options available, there are some things a person can do on their own that might help when they are struggling. It has been found that something as simple as spending time in sunlight can help alleviate symptoms of depression.
Sunlight is a natural source of vitamin D, a nutrient that plays an important role in regulating mood. When we are exposed to sunlight, our bodies produce vitamin D, which can help boost our mood and reduce symptoms of depression. In fact, research has shown that people with depression are more likely to have low levels of vitamin D.
In addition to its mood-boosting effects, sunlight also helps regulate our circadian rhythms, which can have a big impact on our mood and energy levels. Our circadian rhythms are our body's internal clock, which tells us when to sleep and wake up. When we are exposed to sunlight during the day, it can help regulate our circadian rhythms, which in turn can help improve our mood and energy levels.
***It's important to note that too much sun exposure can also have negative effects on our health, such as increasing our risk of skin cancer. It's important to strike a balance between getting enough sunlight to benefit our mood and overall health, while also protecting our skin from harmful UV rays.
But, that's what life is all about right? Trying to find the balance.
If you're struggling with depression spending more time in sunlight could help. Here are some practical tips to consider when being in the light:
Start small: If you're not used to spending time in sunlight, it's important to start small and gradually build up your exposure. Start with just a few minutes of sunlight each day, and slowly increase your exposure over time.
Protect your skin: Always wear sunscreen and protective clothing when you're spending time in sunlight, especially during peak sun hours.
Find ways to incorporate sunlight into your daily routine: Whether it's taking a walk outside during your lunch break or sitting outside to read a book, finding ways to incorporate sunlight into your daily routine can help improve your mood and overall well-being.
Consider light therapy: If you live in an area with limited sunlight or have difficulty getting outside, light therapy may be an option. Light therapy involves exposure to bright, artificial light, which can help regulate your circadian rhythms and improve your mood.
Find something you enjoy: With depression, it can be difficult to want to do anything. Making time outside coincide with something you have found joy in in the past can help make it easier to get yourself outdoors. You can also weigh the effort it takes to get outside and do your activity with the payoff after you spend your time outside to see the benefit for yourself. Just the doing of things when you are depressed can have a major impact on the level of depression you are experiencing (for more information on this look at Behavioral Activation Therapy).
While sunlight may not be a cure for depression, it can be a helpful tool in managing symptoms and improving our overall well-being. Coordinating other activities such as therapy and doing the things that we don't feel like doing with our time outside can cause a turnaround where there once seemed no hope.
If you're struggling with depression, it's important to talk to a mental health professional and explore all treatment options available to you. Please reach out to The King's Forge Counseling via our contact form at www.thekingsforge.net to set up a time to talk. And don't forget to walk in the light, it will help you see more clearly!