Whether you’re at home or on holiday, the sun shining can boost your mood. As the summer months draw near, if you feel like a weight has been lifted from your shoulders and you notice that you’re more cheerful, there are several scientific reasons behind this. Here are six.
1. The summer means days are longer
Long, dark nights in the winter can mean you feel more tired and down, while longer days in the summer can be uplifting.
Longer days don’t just mean you benefit from more light and sunshine, which play a role in improving your wellbeing, but it often means you socialise more as well. Getting together with family and friends is crucial for feeling fulfilled and reducing stress.
2. You’re likely to spend more time outdoors
Plenty of research has linked spending time outside with improved mental wellbeing. There are two key reasons for this.
First, being closer to nature eases stress and helps you to relax. According to a New Scientist report, spending just two hours a week outdoors can improve your mental health.
Second, when you’re enjoying the outdoors, you’re more likely to exercise. Whether you go for a hike or play with grandchildren in the garden, getting active can release endorphins, also known as the “feel-good hormone”.
3. Your eating habits may change
If you find you reach for calorie-laden comfort food in winter, and prefer fresh fruit and vegetables in the summer months, you’re not alone.
According to US research, people eat on average 86 more calories each day and more fat in the winter months. The difference may seem small but over a full season it can add up. Improved eating habits in the summer months can mean you’re getting more of the nutrients you need to function.
4. Sunlight can increase serotonin
Serotonin is a hormone that’s associated with improving your overall mood, helping you feel calmer, and enabling you to focus. Sunlight can increase how much serotonin the brain releases, so enjoying the sun can make you far happier.
5. Serotonin can regulate melatonin production
Melatonin is another hormone that’s affected by sunshine. The hormone is a product of serotonin and helps to regulate your sleep. So, if you find that you get a better night’s sleep and feel more rested in the summer, this could be the reason why.
6. Sunlight is an important source of vitamin D
Vitamin D is important for the healthy function of your body. It can boost your immune system and stimulate insulin production. A lack of vitamin D can cause a range of symptoms, including fatigue and muscle weakness.
Despite this, it’s difficult to get the right amount of vitamin D from your diet alone. However, when your skin is exposed to sunlight, vitamin D is produced, helping to improve your wellbeing.
In the UK during the winter months, the sunshine isn’t usually strong enough to produce vitamin D, which can affect your mood.
5 tips for making the most of sunny days
We don’t get too many days of sunshine in the UK, so making the most of them is often a priority. Here are some tips for really enjoying the summer months this year.
1. Get outdoors as much as possible
Make the most of the summer months by spending as much time as you can outside. It can help boost your vitamin D production and leave you feeling far more positive. Whether you plan to spend all day outdoors or just go for a quick walk at lunchtime, carve out time to enjoy the outdoors each day.
2. Plan social events
For many people, their social calendars start to fill up in the summer with holidays and activities to fit in, especially during the school holidays. Take some time to look at what’s on offer in your area to help you enjoy the season, such as outdoor cinemas, festivals, and craft fairs.
3. Leave yourself time to relax
While there are plenty of social things to add to your diary, don’t forget to give yourself some downtime too. Relaxing in the garden at home over a weekend can be just as beneficial for your wellbeing as meeting up with loved ones.
4. Take the opportunity to try new things
As the sunnier weather can mean you’re happier and more positive, it’s the perfect time to try new things. That could mean taking part in a class to learn a new skill, setting an exercise challenge, or something else that captures your attention.
5. Tackle the tasks you’ve been putting off
If you’ve been putting off certain tasks, scheduling time to do them when the sun is shining could make it easier. The mood boost the weather provides can help you feel calmer and in a better frame of mind to get things done. If it’s financial tasks you’ve been neglecting, we’re here to help too.