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Embrace the Healing Benefits of Sunlight – Happy Spring!

We who live in northern climes like Oregon need to take advantage of the healing benefits of sunlight to offset the health-zapping effects of a long winter After a long, hard winter it’s a relief to feel the warmth of the sunshine and see the flowers beginning to emerge! It makes me think about the healing benefits of sunlight, but also about some of the dangers from unwise sun exposure.

In northern climes like Oregon where there are so many overcast days, many people suffer from Vitamin D deficiency. Others struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder and depression. Beware…this can also occur from spending all day in the office working!

How much sunlight you need to produce your daily dose of Vitamin D depends on where you live. Scientist at the Norwegian Institute for Air Research has created an online calculator that can help you determine the amount for where you live. (Click here to learn more.) Without it our bones deteriorate (osteoporosis and rickets) and we’re more prone to cancers (prostate, breast, color and ironically, skin cancer) type 1 insulin-dependent diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and heart disease.

Our mood is greatly affected by the amount of sunlight we get. We need the light to calibrate our circadian cycle of sleep and wakefulness. And it builds our immune system by increasing the white blood cells, called lymphocytes, which play a major role in defending the body against infections. It’s also been noted to lower cholesterol, fight bacterial infections, and clear up some skin disorders. On the down side, too much exposure can cause painful burning, skin cancers and possibly cataracts.

Even though UV from the sun can be harmful in high doses, you can safely enjoy the outdoors without risking your health. Keep in mind I’m not giving medical advice. You must use common sense and listen to what your doctor says about your situation. That being said…here are a few tips that help you enjoy the benefits of sunlight safely…

  • Know your skin type. If you burn very easily, you’ll have to exercise greater mindfulness in how long you stay out in the sun.
  • During the less intense times of the day (sunlight is strongest from 11 am to 2 pm) gradually increase your exposure duration to 10 or 15 minutes.
  • Use sunscreen for longer exposure. Do some research and find the most healthful brand for you. Many of the products contain fragrances and chemicals such as Oxybenzone, (linked to hormone disruption and cell damage) Retinyl palmitate, (a carcinogen), Octyl-methoxycinnamate (oxidation damage which ages your skin) Butyl-Methdiebenzoylmethane, (releases free radicals into the body) Benzophenone 2 (BP2), (decreases the function of the thyroid). So choose wisely.
  • Find sunglasses that provide UVA and UVB protection and good coverage of your full field of vision.
  • Wear a hat and cover up in white clothing (more cooling on hot summer days than no clothing) during long exposure times.
  • Be mindful of what you eat. A balanced, nutritious diet provides protection from some of the sun’s hazards. However, a diet high in omega-6 polyunsaturated fats like sunflower, safflower, and other vegetable oils will make you more prone to sun damage. Healthier fats to use are coconut, avocado or palm oils.
  • Also be mindful that some medications make you more sensitive to sunlight. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if the type you take falls in this category.

Don’t let the fear of sun keep you from enjoying life fully. Exercise mindful awareness of the risks and benefits of sunlight and get outside! Now is a good to assess your entire body/mind/spirit wellness to determine ways you can improve. Download my free 7-Point Body Wellness Assessment. It’s an eye-opening self-examination guide.

If you already know what changes you want to make, but you need some accountability and support, then feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation, in-person, by phone or via Skype. I’d love to help you reach your goals!

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