Health / 18.02.2015

#FeelgoodFebruary: Soak up some sunlight

By Laurence Favager
Get out and enjoy every bit of winter sunshine, on Dr. John Briffa's orders

What was that creeping through the blinds this morning, coaxing the white snowdrop buds from their green casing and making us believe, for the first time in ages, that winter’s end is nearing?

It was the sun, your most powerful weapon for keeping spirits up in winter. ‘Light has the ability to stimulate the production of serotonin in the brain,’ says Dr. John Briffa. ‘This neurotransmitter has broadly mood-enhancing effects so, in theory at least, light might help you maintain a cheerful outlook and buoyant disposition,’ he adds.

So, in short, even if it’s looking murky, taking your lunch break away from your desk is essential. ‘In the winter, even on a dull day, the light intensity is generally much greater outside the office than it is inside,’ he explains.

Here are the Doc’s top reasons to do a little bit of winter sun worship

1 Light is important for brain function and mood maintenance, and lack of sunlight can have an impact on how we feel and function. Getting some natural light exposure each day is a good idea throughout the year, especially in winter.

2 The use of a bright light device may help those who are prone to mood or general wellbeing issues in the winter and find it difficult to get natural light exposure.

3 Sunlight and vitamin D are associated with protection from several other forms of cancer and other benefits for health.

4 Vitamin D is associated with a wide range of benefits for body and brain (anti-inflammatory actions in the body which lead to heart attacks and strokes, warding off infection, and body composition/weight maintenance).

Remember! There is evidence that suggests sunlight is not an important cause of malignant melanoma, though it does appear to cause other more common but less problematic forms of skin cancer. So getting sun exposure is important, but so is avoiding burning (using physical rather than chemical means).

For more strategies on maximising energy, turn to Dr John’s book A Great Day At The Office: Simple Strategies To Maximise Your Energy And Get More Done More Easily (Fourth Estate, Harper Collins, £14.99). Photography: Wild and Free Jewellery via Pinterest
#FeelgoodFebruary: Soak up some sunlight
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#FeelgoodFebruary: Soak up some sunlight
#FeelgoodFebruary continues with some important health advice from Dr John Briffa on the importance of sunlight in a healthy lifestyle
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