Light Up Your 2021
A fresh start
As we progress into the new year many of us will be hoping for a brighter start and hopefully a happier one than 2020. This is the perfect time to reflect back on what went right, what went wrong, and how you can improve yourself or other aspects of your life.
By now you may have established what goals and resolutions you wish to bring into your life this year, such as taking up a new diet or giving up alcohol, but have you ever considered the less obvious things that we should be working on which can often bring us the most benefit?
Getting out of the house and spending more time outside is a priority for most in 2021 given the unpredictable nature that is living in a pandemic. Self-help, meditation, and wellbeing have seen a huge surge in interest last year as many of us learn to take a step back and look at what is truly important for our welfare in this modern world.
Have you ever watched a sunrise and noticed that growing feeling of content as the sunlight bathes your skin in warmth? Our bodies benefit tremendously from the exposure to natural light because we are a product of thousands of years of evolution, built to be in the sun on a daily basis.
Taking just 30 minutes out of your day to go for a walk or even just sit by a window, makes exposing your skin to natural sunlight one of the easiest New Year resolutions to fulfill.
Our ancestors knew all about the importance of the sun, they never had access to artificial lighting, so for many years, our civilisation has revolved around daylight, worshipping the sun as the source of all life.
Before electrical lighting and other technological advances shaped the workplace into one that often keeps us cooped up in an office or warehouse all day, the idea of discussing the benefits of sunlight wouldn’t even have occurred. Our modern reality means that our working and living patterns have changed, becoming hugely dependent on artificial lighting, to the detriment of our physical and psychological health.
Benefits of sunlight
Now more than ever we need our bodies defence to be at its strongest, taking the necessary steps can be vital, and knowing how to do that is just as important. The benefits to sunlight exposure are endless, but here are some important ones that you should know about going forward.
Boosts vitamin-D production. Our bodies need vitamin-D to survive and to perform to their maximum potential. It has almost become common knowledge now that this special vitamin can be absorbed through our skin in daylight. It is the key ingredient to promoting strong bone development and healthy teeth, especially during our adolescent years as it allows our bodies to absorb calcium.
The aptly known “sunshine vitamin” doesn’t discriminate based on whether you get your natural sunlight indoors or out, which is why it is important to maximise the potential for light exposure in areas where you spend the most time.
Sunlight helps to regulate our body clock. Our body clock is essential for regulating the rhythms that coordinate all of its functions. From digestion to cell reproduction, these rhythms are almost 24 hours in length, which goes to show how closely linked these patterns are with day and night. Our clock is reset at sunrise as the natural light hits your skin kick-starting your day.
Getting enough sunlight exposure stimulates your body to produce melatonin, which in turn helps you to fall off to sleep later at night. If you don’t get enough, you may feel restless in bed as you try to drift off. It is important to remember that artificial light, blue light especially, can interrupt these rhythms, so switch off the T.V. and any other technology sources in your bedroom to create complete darkness as you prepare to sleep.
Natural light improves your psychological wellbeing. Ever gotten back from a nice walk in the sun and noticed that your mood has lifted? Well, there is a reason for that. The benefit of natural light doesn’t just apply to our physical wellbeing, it has just as much of an effect on our psychological wellbeing too.
A lack of sunlight can make us feel down and depressed, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is prevalent in the UK due to its long hours of darkness in the winter, coupled with much of the time spent indoors. Our emotional selves have a deep connection to light, to a point where it can have a profound effect on how we feel, so it is important to get outside when the sun is out.
Better vision. Studies have shown that natural light lowers the risk of near-sightedness, especially in children and young adults. The production of dopamine is encouraged which aids healthy eye development, an opposite effect to that of a smartphone or fluorescent light, which can cause eye strain and lead to permanent damage.
Promote natural sunlight at home or in the office
Mirrors. Reflecting light into darker areas in your home using mirrors can make a huge difference. It is the perfect solution to brighten up a dreary corner of a room and has been used as a tool to do so for thousands of years.
The ceiling is your limit when it comes to choosing a mirror size you would want to use, so be sure to place it tactfully where you can reap the most benefit.
Ditch the curtains. Maximising the amount of light that enters your home is crucial. Curtains and drapes can obscure light far more than a blind for example. You can raise a blind fully during the day and it can really make a difference to your home and its light potential. Curtains may be lovely to look at, but their elegance pales compared to the benefits of using a blind or going au natural!
Decorate with reflective colours. Light always makes a home look better, so why not choose colours that emphasise this when you decorate? White of course is the most reflective colour, but if you’re bored with that why not choose something close? Such as light coloured pastels, an eggshell finish or other reflective paints to emphasise the brightness.
Light therapy. SAD lamps have a proven track record to lift your mood and productivity. The exposure to blue light can often stimulate the brain to become alert, whilst studies have shown that it can be at least as effective as antidepressants for alleviating seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Getting enough natural sunlight might not solve all of your problems, but it might just be enough to improve your situation so that you can notice a difference. So, try some of these suggestions, spend more time in the sun, and see if it can improve your mood for the better.
“Let there be light” – Book of Genesis