Sunny secret to a less SAD you

By Meg Dowell

Have you been feeling SAD lately? Hang in there, Olivetians: your mood is about to take a turn for the happier (literally).

Summer will be here before we know it, but it’s not just the break from 16-week classes and tiring extracurricular activities that puts smiles on our sleepy college faces. The sun, which we naturally see more of between the months of May and August here in the Midwest, is a major contributor to our levels of happiness during the summer season.

If the past few months’ dreary weather has made it hard for you to get out of bed when your alarm goes off, don’t worry too much about the reason.

We don’t see much of Mr. Sun during the winter, and while you may not actually have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – depression that occurs only during the winter season – humans need exposure to sunlight, literally, to brighten our moods.

One benefit of sunlight is the amount of vitamin D it provides. Research has proven that supplements of vitamin D can’t give our bodies enough of the nutrient we need to serve its role in numerous essential functions in our bodies.

Adequate exposure to natural sunlight is the most effective way to obtain this nutrient.

Studies have shown 15 to 20 minutes of exposure to the sun per day without sunscreen can provide you with enough vitamin D to promote optimal bone health and fight off colds, and even to combat depression no matter the time of year.

Open your blinds, take a walk outside with friends, study in the quad, take any chance you can get to soak up the sun. (As long as you’re actually studying, obviously.)

Why else should you spend as much time in the sun as you can? There appear to be more benefits to sunlight exposure than risks. Experts are looking into how more frequent exposure to sunlight affects alertness, brain function, and metabolism.

Whatever the health benefits, a healthy you is a happier you. Or you could just be glad to wave goodbye to biweekly chapel and to-go meals from Nesbitt for a while – or in the class of 2014’s case, forever.

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