The cold weather and too much time spend indoors can affect you mentally and physically. The “winter doldrums” are a real thing, and in fact can escalate to legitimate problems. A little bit of sun, however, could go a long way to help you snap out of your winter funk.

What is SAD?

SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, is a legitimate affliction where people experience depression symptoms during the late fall and winter. People who are affected by SAD often feel depressed, moody or irritable, and experience a lack of energy specifically during the cold weather months. The exact number of people that are faced with SAD is unknown because many people are not even aware that such a condition exists.

What Causes SAD?

Many people might think that SAD is caused by the cold temperatures and uncomfortable weather, but it is actually linked to a lack of sunlight. During the winter, not only is the weather more likely to be dreary and overcast, but because of the cold people are less likely to go outside and get any sunlight at all.

Is There a Cure?

For people that suffer with SAD, as well as any case of the “winter doldrums”, getting some sunlight can really help a lot. Many doctors that diagnose Seasonal Affective Disorder recommend that their patients simply get some sunlight. While it is not always the perfect prescription to cure everyone’s slumps, it will certainly help perk anyone up.

How Does the Sun Help?

Although UV safety is certainly an issue, sunlight is actually very good for you. There are many benefits to getting some sun, for both your mind and body.

Vitamin D – Around 90% of vitamin D production in your body is due to sunlight. You can take supplements, of course, but there is no better source of vitamin D than the natural rays of the sun. Vitamin D is important for many reasons, including bone health and the absorption of calcium.

Serotonin – Getting some sun actually boosts your serotonin levels, which is what makes you feel happy. Serotonin also makes you feel more energetic and suppresses appetite, which might be why people tend to eat more during the winter.

How Much Sunlight Do I Need?

It only takes around 15 minutes a day of direct sunlight to chase away those winter blahs. Doctors typically recommend 15-30 minutes of sun per day to help treat SAD. You can get your needed sunlight by going for a walk or just relaxing by a sunny window. Of course, you always want to be careful not to burn. If your skin is turning pink, that is an indication that you have had enough and need to cover up or wear sunscreen.

How Do I Cope When the Weather is Bad?

When the sun is hiding behind particularly overcast weather, or if you live in a climate where going outside just isn’t reasonable, there are alternative methods. Two of the methods are either purchasing a light box, and/or taking vitamin D supplements. Light therapy boxes can be found online or in some specialty medical supply stores. Supplements won’t give you everything that the sun is able to, but the extra boost of vitamin D will help.

The sun helps gardens and flowers grow and its warm rays can put a smile on just about anyone’s face. So it’s no wonder that when winter hits and people head indoors that you can start to feel gloomy. You can fight these winter doldrums with a few minutes of sunshine each day.