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Does Sunny Weather Help Overall Wellness?

Does Sunny Weather Help Overall Wellness?

Understanding the impact sunshine has on your mental state provides a practical step to manage your emotions

An increasing amount of evidence points toward sunshine as an important predictor of emotions. Understanding the details behind the research, and drawing practical applications from it, can be an important part of a successful recovery from an addiction or other mental health condition.

Recent Research on the Correlation Between Sunshine and Mental Health

Two studies have been conducted in the past decade that are directly relevant to this topic. Both shed light on the role of sunshine in mental health, and provide interesting insight into how the physical body is impacted by environmental factors.

The University of Michigan conducted a set of three studies involving over 600 individuals across the United States, and confirmed weather can improve mood. The study surprisingly found that the optimal temperature nationally from a mood perspective is 72 degrees. Even more interesting, regional differences moved the optimal temperature as low as 65 degrees and as high as 86.

In order for the warmer weather to impact an individual, 30 minutes should be spent outside. An inability or unwillingness to go outside during pleasant weather can even cause a deterioration of emotional wellbeing. While unsubstantiated, the researchers believe this is because an individual will have resentment about being stuck inside, or potentially the nice weather outside can cause an individual to view their inside tasks as boring or uninteresting.

A second study conducted in 2013 reveals more about the impact of weather on mood. This study from Martijn Arns of Utrecht University in the Netherlands finds that children in locations with higher amounts of sunshine generally have a lower incidence of ADHD. While this finding in itself may seem unrelated to mental wellbeing, a deeper look reveals some correlations worth exploring.

Arns explained that as individuals spend more time in front of electronic devices leading up to going to bed, the body is inhibited from producing melatonin – which tells our body to go to sleep. He posits that additional sunlight could offset this decrease in melatonin, and allow for better sleep.

Why Do These Findings Matter to an Individual in Recovery?

Both these studies have important implications for any individual working through recovery from addiction. Because emotional wellbeing is a vital part of moving away from addiction, understanding the impact sunshine has on your mental state provides a practical step to manage your emotions.

Particularly in conjunction with exercise, spending time outside will allow room for positivity in your life. This can become an important component of developing new and healthy habits to encourage a clean and drug free lifestyle.

What if Climate Won’t Cooperate?

While not every person lives in a climate that has a lot of sunshine, even being outside on an overcast day can expose you to the kind of full spectrum light that has been shown to improve mood. There are also practical alternatives to consider in replacement of natural sunlight.

The best option is to consider seeking professional guidance to begin light therapy. In light therapy patients are exposed to bright lights at a specified distance. Brighter than typical lamps or light bulbs, a light box will produce melatonin and potentially serotonin in patients exposed to its rays.

It is of note that light therapy is highly technical. It requires very specific types of light to be emitted, and a patient to be seated a certain distance away from the light box. Additionally, the light should be directed to the eyes at a specific angle to minimize visual glare. Studies have shown that light therapy can be effective in minimizing depression and other mental disorders.

An Inability to Manage Your Emotions Can Lead Back to Addiction

It might feel almost silly to consider how the weather can impact your overall wellness, but it is vital because your emotional state impacts your ability to stay sober. If you don’t carefully and actively monitor your mental wellbeing, you may begin to believe that returning to the addiction is the right choice. But understanding the value of managing your emotions, and applying the strategies listed above, will allow you to push through to recovery.

The bottom line is this: returning to your addiction is always a risk, and one you must remain vigilant against in every way.

Find Addiction Help Today

The cost of returning to your addiction is too high. If this is where you are right now, the most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. We can help you. We can answer your questions. The admission counselors at our toll-free, 24 hour helpline can help you learn more about addiction. They can help you find your way.