We as human beings use the sun as our most reliable resource when it comes to power, energy, and most things needed for day to day living. It helps our modern civilizations thrive, breathes life through the earth, warms our seas, and grows the greenery that provides us oxygen. But what we really underestimate is the amount of good that the sun does for the human body. One thing in particular that the sun helps with happens to be most people’s motive for living: Happiness. Let’s dissect that.
The act of receiving monoamine neurotransmitters throughout your nervous system is essential to whether you wake up with a positive outlook or not, despite the lack of events that could have steered your mood prior to waking up. In more simple words, your body needs to produce chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine in order to stay happy. There are certain factors that have a play in whether these Neurotransmitters get produced; one of the biggest being vitamin D, and B12 intake. When production isn’t going smoothly, it can be a leading cause for Major Depressive Disorder. This can be derived from PTSD, major life events or changes, a death of a loved one, or simply genetics. When the chemicals in one’s body aren’t balanced out, those with this disorder commonly experience symptoms like fatigue, social withdraw, and lack of interest in daily activities (ie. work, or school).
Let’s go back to the vitamins. Being in the sun is the main way most people receive vitamin D. The sun is our best friend when it comes to mood, simply due to the production of the vitamin being heavily related to the creation of monoamine neurotransmitters.
So, knowing that information above, tell me this: Do you notice that you or people around you tend to feel more down when the sun is gone? If your answer was yes, there is a good chance you might have what is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, commonly called SAD. Seasonal depression is very common, and tends to occur in fall and winter.
The depression experienced with SAD is consistent, which makes it different from Major Depressive Disorder. This small detail is what can make or break your happiness during the holiday season. If you can catch your depression by putting it on a schedule, you might be able to avoid it completely. Let’s talk about ways to beat that winter sadness in order to fully enjoy the winter months.
SAD LAMP- Price: $$$
A SAD lamp is a lamp that uses light therapy in an attempt to recreate the same mood-boosting sunrays. These lamps are used for around 30 minutes to an hour in order to trick the brain into receiving light the exact way it would the sun, so those essential neurotransmitters start working again. Choosing to buy one of these lamps comes with considering different components like intensity, price, and rate of success. Healthline has come up with a great list of lamps to choose from along with the pros and cons of each one.
B12 SUPPLEMENTS- Price: $$
I just had to add this on here because B12 is my best friend. As previously stated, the sun contributes to B12 production, but B12 as a chemical compound alone has so many great constituents for your body. This vitamin is truly vital for the metabolizing and synthesizing of serotonin, which is why reaping the benefits of B12 can increase mood and lower depressive symptoms. Click here for more information about the benefits of B12.
DBT EXERCISES- Price: Free!
DBT stands for Dialectic Behavioral Therapy, aka the ability to feel more than one emotion while holding both valid. This skill is great to utilize when you catch the blues, but the one thing that I must stress about this method is that IT TAKES PRACTICE. DBT is an exercise that needs to be learned and repeated in order for the therapy to take effect. This can be learned online or with a medical professional depending on your budget. To learn more about DBT click here.
I hope these tips help! Stay safe, and enjoy the rest of winter!
By Jada Strong, Freshman, Whitney Young Magnet High School