By Laura Dickman, BSW Intern
Last weekend those of us in Chicagoland experienced the classic spring tease. We had one full day of 60-70 degree weather, the snow melted, and the sun was shining. Then, Monday hit with a rude and cruel reminder of our geolocation. We were thrown right back to the midwest weather we begin to loathe by mid-March; snow, sleet, and freezing temps. We're all craving fresh air, time in the sun, and a cooling (without freezing your nostrils) breeze. I hope you were able to get even just a few minutes of this during this Spring-tease!
According to new University of Michigan research reviewed in Science Daily, getting outside for at least 30 minutes a day has many mental and physical health benefits. Weather has proven to improve mood, memory, and broaden cognitive style. Researchers also concluded that spending time inside when weather outside is pleasant results in lower mood and cognitive functioning. Research also shows that spending time outside has benefits beyond mental health. Warm weather allows for social human beings to be more involved in their communities, in turn strengthening social ties, and improving mental health overall. When we are able to go outside during pleasant weather to enjoy activities we look forward to all winter long, we can’t help but feel a sense of joy and happiness for being able to enjoy our favored activities once again. Additionally, getting out of the house also comes with us being able to be more on top of our goals and schedules. The good weather allows for an easier time for trying to achieve goals we made during the winter months and have put off until the spring.
Warm weather also allows us to finally naturally absorb the sun’s vitamin D that most Americans have been proven to be defiant in according to several studies. Vitamin D has been noted in several scientific studies to have a positive impact on diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and even type-2 diabetes. Additionally, when we are able to absorb vitamin D we are able to experience the benefits of the natural vitamin. Some of the benefits include treating mood and sleep disorders as well as improving depression and seasonal affective disorder. According to medium.com, studies show that an increase in exposure to vitamin D is specifically beneficial for hormone regulation. Some of the hormones that can be positively affected by exposure to vitamin D are serotonin and melatonin. No wonder the sun makes us feel happy!
According to chicagotribune.com, daylight savings means we have longer days with more sunshine, and vitamin D! As well as the warmer days allowing individuals to get out more which leads to more exercise, which in turn helps with mood. Additionally, getting out of the house more due to warm weather means that we are possibly getting more socialization and in turn receiving more social support. All of these factors result in an improvement of mood and health due to the umbrella effects of warmer weather. Additionally, according to psychologytoday.com, research shows that hikers have a 50% spike in creativity after just a couple days of hiking and being away from technology. Researchers also concluded that getting outside because of the warmer weather can in turn improve an individual's health and mental performance through more connection to nature and more exercise.
We’re all ready for spring to start, for real this time. Until then, if you’re craving the warmth of sunlight and can’t hop on a flight to Cancun within the next 24- hours, you might consider buying a light therapy lamp like one of these reviewed by the New York Times, or picking up a vitamin D supplement recommended by Healthline. At the end of the day, listen to your body and your symptoms. If you’re having difficulty getting out of bed and experiencing symptoms of depression that are impacting your daily functioning, please reach out to us to schedule an appointment for therapy. We’re here for you.
Bowen, A. (2018, June 5). Does
an early winter warmup help or hurt those with seasonal depression? chicagotribune.com. Retrieved March 9, 2022, from https://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/health/ct-warm-weather-seasonal-depression-health-0309-20170309-story.html
ScienceDaily. (2004, October 7). Warm weather boosts mood, broadens the mind. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 9, 2022, from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041006082239.htm
Walker-Jones, A. (2021, April 7). 5 science-backed benefits of enjoying a return to warmer weather. Medium. Retrieved March 9, 2022, from https://medium.com/beingwell/5-science-backed-benefits-of-enjoying-the-warmer-weather-6f24445fe29c