Pandemic Winter Health Hacks

Soak Up the Wintertime Sunlight

Dose yourself with all the rays you can get

I’ve never owned a lamp designed to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD), but that’s only because my zip code is reliably sunny. If it weren’t, I would absolutely invest in one. Access to light, after all, is a human necessity.

I know plenty of folks acclimatized to screens and dark days who might dismiss the notion that sunshine is a vital ingredient of well-being. But it’s hard to argue with physiology (not to mention the established link between sunlight and immune function). In the case of SAD, Ashley Laderer writes for Elemental, “experts believe it is caused by the reduction in daylight hours, which throws off hormones like melatonin and serotonin, contributing to the change in energy levels and mood.”

Simply put, sunlight is a regulating force for our species — whether you’re prone to SAD or not. It offers the best dose of vitamin D on the market, it may even protect the health of our eyesight, and it tees up all sorts of other behaviors (like exercise and time spent in nature) that keep us healthy and feed our brains.

If you can get outside when the sun beckons (yes, even in winter), I urge you to. Walking and talking with someone you love is a great way to make it a habit. If winter sports are your thing, you’re likely already versed in the magic cocktail of cold-meets-sunny. And on the days when the weather is just too bitter to face, try drinking in what natural light you can by relaxing in a cozy spot by the window.

Illustration: Sophi Gullbrants

Senior Editor, Health & Wellness @ Medium. I write and edit stories about health, science, well-being, and behavior.

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