Long days are back, and it’s time to start soaking up that sunshine!
The term “seasonal depression” gets thrown around a lot, but we’re here to tell you that it’s no joke. Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a state of depression caused by a change in the season and a major decrease in our serotonin levels. Luckily for us, the cure arrived on March 14, and its name is “daylight saving.”
With all these extra hours of sunshine, you now have more time to finish up your work for the day, get outside, and take in some of that sweet, sweet vitamin D.
Studies have shown that lower levels of vitamin D are correlated with depression and worsened mental health. Now that winter has officially come to a close, we’re coming out of hibernation and getting back that spring in our step — and not a minute too soon!
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Though life isn’t back to normal just yet, we’ve all made it past the pandemic’s one-year milestone, and that is worth celebrating! So here are four ways to make the most of the longer, brighter days ahead.
1. Give yourself something to look forward to.
Having positive expectations — especially while living through a pandemic — is one of the best possible things we can do for our mood and mental health.
You may not be able to take that European vacation you had planned, but you can still add a daily walk to your morning routine, spend an hour of your remote workday outside in the sun, or even plan a weekly post-work picnic with a friend. Build in little things to get excited about! Right now, those small moments ARE the big ones.
2. Soak in that vitamin D.
“We’ve been trapped indoors and our bodies are probably extra eager to walk, bike, and run,” says self-care coach Gracy Obuchowicz. “Since the pandemic started, I know my relationship with outdoor exercise has changed from feeling like it’s something I should do for my health, to an activity I deeply desire for every level of my well-being.”
It’s true: We now live for the sunshine!
When you’re feeling stir-crazy, some simple cures include a beautiful run, a walk through the park, or a family game of volleyball. For something a little more relaxing, do a bit of spring cleaning in your garden, have a porch chat with a friend over lemonade, or — for those in warmer cities — get that swimming pool back in action!
3. Mix up your routine.
There are some days — especially midweek — when taking a 30-minute outdoor break can feel nearly impossible. But if you’re able to swing it, you’ll be blown away by the difference it makes in your energy levels and overall mood.
It can be something simple like taking lunch in your front yard, or you can go a bit more elaborate and set up a game night with outdoor relays and activities. Whatever it is, aim for variety! And don’t forget to take advantage of that glorious summertime golden hour.
4. Socialize in the sunshine.
The pandemic initially had us relying on outdoor gatherings out of necessity, but now they’re something we do because we simply need them. (That’s the vitamin D talking.)
Spending so much time indoors has us craving physical activity, warm weather, and all of the above combined with friends. This year, we need to prioritize our emotional needs and get that feel-good hormone cocktail of oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin by spending safe time with the people we love.
Remember those friends you haven’t seen since the last time you had your fill of vitamin D? Invite them over for a socially-distanced BBQ or a game night in the park. Chances are, it’ll be exactly what the doctor ordered!
While we can’t wait for our “new normal” to go back to just being “normal,” there is no reason why we can’t make the best out of what we have right now.
We have breath in our lungs, and now we also have the sun shining outside — so let’s give ourselves some excitement to look forward to!
Try out these tips for yourself, or share them with a friend and do it together!
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