Sunshine is an essential ingredient for plants to grow and flourish. Have you ever noticed how recharged and peaceful you feel after spending some time in nature? It turns out that one of the components found in sunlight may be beneficial to your mental outlook and mood.
Sun for a sunny disposition?
Fresh air, sunlight, and being in nature has been known to reduce stress, improve one’s outlook, strengthen immunity, and help to improve focus (1). It is thought that by spending time outside, the sun stimulates the body to produce vitamin D (2).
Although it has been suggested that we limit the amount of time spent outside due to sun exposure, studies have suggested that it only takes about 20 minutes to reap the benefits of vitamin D and other stress reduction benefits associated with spending time outside (2).
Ease depression with vitamin D
The effects of depression can make daily activities a challenge, often being accompanied by both mental and physical symptoms (3). One study that examined the effects of taking a regular walk in nature after experiencing stressful events — the loss of a loved one, unemployment, and being diagnosed with a serious illness — revealed that there was a significant relationship between outdoor nature walks and an increase in positive mood (3).
Another study supported this relationship, finding that individuals who had viral hepatitis often experienced higher levels of depression when there was an inadequate level of vitamin D in their system (4). Once the participants increased their vitamin D levels, the symptoms of depression lessened, with a significant reduction in the depressive symptoms being observed in as little as three months of vitamin D supplementation (4).