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How to Make Your Own Sunshine During the Winter

With the onset of winter in full swing, many of us are dreaming of sunshine… and perhaps a beach to lie on and a margarita to sip. So why not take every opprtunity to bring as much sunshine into our lives as possible.

With the winter holidays, we know how tight your entertainment budget can get (we feel ya!). A Bermuda vacation might not exactly fit into it. So, how can you get sunshine in the winter? And what else can you do to mimic the benefits of the sun when the days just seem to be getting darker and darker?

Finding Sunshine for the Mind

Undeniably, the sun feels oh-so-good. You know that feeling. Summer hits and you breathe a sigh of relief because you can shed some layers, step outside and just feel the perfect rays lighten up the world around you. What’s going on? Why does the sun make you happier?

Interestingly, the sun stimulates specific areas in the retina and this causes your body to release serotonin - making you feel great!

It’s also the reason why you feel not-so-fabulous in the winter. With limited sunshine, we just don’t get enough of it: You go to work and it’s dark, you finish work and it’s dark causing you to barely get a chance to see daylight. In fact, increased rates of depression and anxiety conditions are linked to decreased sun exposure, bringing on the dreaded seasonal affective disorder.

Read more: Why Does Your Mental Health Get Worse Around Christmas?

There’s good news, you can mimic the effects of the summer sun via light therapy, also known as phototherapy. Light therapy is great to boost your mood during those darker months.

What is Light Therapy?

What’s light therapy all about? How can you get it right? Here are a few tips to make sure you reap all those good mental health benefits from phototherapy:

  • Select a lightbox that emits 10 000 lux. Surprisingly, this light is 20 times stronger than your average indoor light bulb but by using this strength of light, you’ll get the most benefits without the sun.
  • Ensure your lightbox also has the full spectrum of white light. It should not expose you to harmful UV rays.
  • Aim to place the box about forehead level or higher and angle it to about 2 or 10 o’clock. This, again, mimics the sun better.
  • Keep it at least 2 feet away from your eyes for protection.
  • Try to use it first thing in the morning for about 20-60 minutes. This will also help your natural circadian rhythm kick in, making you feel 1000 times better.
  • Use your lightbox daily to receive the most benefits. Consistency is key!
  • Try keeping a mood journal and see if it works. A few weeks in, ask yourself: how do you feel?

Getting Sunshine for the Body

The sunshine isn’t just for your mind. It’s also good for your body and undoubtedly, these two are closely linked.

Exposure to the sun can even help you sleep better. In turn, this can improve your overall health and well-being. Not to mention, you’ll find you’re more productive and your performance at work, the gym, and your personal life will vastly improve. Again, using light therapy can help a ton in this regard.

How does it help?

It resets your natural circadian rhythm. Melatonin is a hormone that is produced when our body senses darkness and it makes you sleepy. This might explain why you feel so tired during the winter season. A lack of sun causes melatonin levels to increase. You might feel like you never fully wake up (you aren’t the only one!).

This can throw your help sleep cycle out of whack. As a result, you might have trouble sleeping. You may feel depressed and you might even crave garbage foods that don’t do you or your body any good. As aforementioned, try light therapy. It should really help you figure the whole sleep thing out.

Vitamin D

The sun is further important for vitamin D production in the body. Vitamin D is particularly important for bone health. It aids in calcium absorption, keeping your bones strong and robust. It’s also been found to aid in immune function.

Now, you’re probably wondering how you can fully counteract your lack of vitamin D in the winter. Most doctors recommend supplementation. Your body will likely absorb this supplement the best alongside high-fat foods. That’s why it’s often recommended to take the supplement with a meal since a well-balanced meal contains a good ratio of fats, protein, and carbs.

Plus, vitamin D supplementation is easy to get. Hit up your local pharmacy and grab a bottle or add some vitamin D filled foods into your diet. It’s absolutely worth it.

Taking in Some Sunshine for the Soul

Hey, sunshine is good to soothe the soul as well! In a way, it’s cleansing. It’s fresh and helps you put on a new perspective or worldview. Sunshine is also frequently the sign of a new day and a new beginning.

Try journaling and finding creative ways to bring those sunshine vibes into your soul. Our personal favourite during the winter is drawing while listening to a comedic or soul-filled podcast or watching a movie while curled up with a deliciously steeped tea and a heating pad set at just the right temperature.

Bring warmth and stability into your down winter months, even if it means embracing the lack of sunshine and redefining what brings you that feeling of summery perfection.

In Conclusion…

While seasonal illnesses cannot always be fixed through our own actions, we think it’s very important to find the little moments in the mist of winter to find our own sunshine. Once you find this sunshine, it can become a great resource to help motivate you when you wake up feeling that the weather has snowed you in.

We send you love, and a offering of warmer days. Go get ‘em, Sunshine.

Read more: Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder
Krista Bugden

Krista Bugden

"Believing in yourself is really half the battle," says Krista. Anything is possible and you really can achieve anything you set your mind to, is her motto. Physiotherapist, Piano player, skydiver, yogi, adventure traveler and energetic force of positivity, Krista is herself a (delightful) force to be reckoned with! As... Read More

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