Even as healthcare professionals recommend avoiding overexposure to the sun, they still recognize its benefits. We often hear that it helps us produce vitamin D, but that’s far from where the advantages end. The mental health benefits of sunlight are many. And while the sun can’t cure clinical diagnoses, it can give you a fighting chance of staying healthy.

At Transformations Treatment Center, we recognize that the human body is a complex system. Everything is connected, and if one part of the body suffers, it can affect every other part. The following mental health benefits of sunlight will show you how powerful our “average star” can be. Of course, this should never be a substitute for legitimate psychological care.

Contact us today if you need more help than sunlight can provide.

Psychological Benefits of Sunlight

To understand how sunlight benefits our mental health, one need only look at the most common types of depression. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) occurs during the winter months when there’s less sunlight. We don’t see this condition in climates where sunlight remains consistent throughout the year. This alone shows sunlight’s advantages.

Even when looking at seasonal affective disorder, though, it’s easy to see the mental health benefits of sunlight:

  • Improved sleep quality: Getting sunlight helps regulate melatonin. This helps you sleep better — which research shows improves overall mental health.
  • Staves off depression: People who live with depression often suffer from a vitamin D deficiency. Time in the sun can help fight against this.
  • Mood boosting effects: Many of the mental health benefits of sunlight come from its ability to boost serotonin levels — often referred to as “the happy chemical.” 
  • Inflammation reduction: Vitamin D from sunlight also reduces inflammation in the body. Research has linked inflammation to fatigue, anxiety, social withdrawal, and depression.
  • Improved job satisfaction: Researchers recently discovered that increased sun exposure at work leads to higher job satisfaction. Work is a major stressor for many people.
  • Reduction in eating disorders: Research also discovered that rates of eating disorders increase during months when there are fewer hours of sunlight in the day.

These are just a few of the mental health benefits of sunlight. When combined with the physical effects, getting an appropriate amount of sunlight is one of the most beneficial things you can do. Of course, there are some disadvantages of overexposure to the sun. Fortunately, you can regulate these while caring for your body and mind.

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Getting the Mental Health Benefits of Sunlight Without the Drawbacks

An old adage tells us that too much of a good thing can be bad. This is especially true with sunlight. America’s most common form of cancer is skin cancer. Unfortunately, overexposure to the sun — even when done for the right reasons — can harm your health.

The following tips can help you avoid these dangers:

  • Use broad spectrum sunscreens with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15.
  • Avoid indoor tanning — it doesn’t offer the same benefits as sunlight.
  • Remember that you don’t need a tan to gain the sun’s health advantages.
  • Reapply sunscreen as directed.
  • Cover up with clothing and UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Don’t exceed 20 minutes in the sun without protection.

Each of these steps will help you avoid skin-damaging effects while still gaining the mental health benefits of sunlight. Remember, your body is a system! You must be careful to take care of every single part — even when your focus is on improving a single area.

Are the Mental Health Benefits of Sunlight Enough?

If you’ve spent any time on social media, you’ve run into some misleading posts. In many instances, these are harmless. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. You may have seen memes claiming that sunlight, exercise, and nature are the only things you need to overcome depression, anxiety disorder, and other mental health issues. This is dangerous misinformation.

Yes, these things can help boost your mood. They can even fight off some symptoms of certain conditions. They are not enough, however, to overcome serious psychological disorders. The mental health benefits of sunlight — and other aspects of nature — are many. If you forego professional care when you need it, though, you may end up endangering your health.

Visit our page on Self-Improvement Strategies for Mental Health for more guidance, but never let online tips substitute for psychological care.

When the Mental Health Benefits of Sunlight Aren’t Enough — Get Help

The psychological benefits gained from sunlight are many. As long as you’re taking care to avoid overexposure, your mind and body will thank you for making the effort. Of course, “catching some rays” isn’t a fix-all solution. If you’re suffering from a mental illness, even our fiery sun doesn’t hold a candle to professional help.

At Transformations Treatment Center, we take a holistic approach to healthcare. Clients gain the mental health benefits of sunlight while engaging in activities such as Adventure Therapy and equine-assisted psychotherapy at our facility. Fortunately, they also have access to a variety of other therapies focused on mental wellness.

Contact us today to learn how we can help.