Summer vibes

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Karen Northshield looks into why we feel so much happier in the summer.

Why does the summer give us such great vibes and why do we suddenly feel young and vital again? There is something powerful about the summer: the sun, the light, the air and the overall atmosphere that puts us in a better mood more than any other season. When summer hits, we feel a shift in our mood. The seasons are a powerful force in our lives. They affect the activities we do, the foods we eat, and even the clothes we wear. There are scientific arguments and fun facts to consider to why we feel happier and more vibrant in the summer days. Sunlight and warmth play a particular role in our mood and wellbeing. 

“Sunlight and warmth play a particular role in our mood and wellbeing”

In the 15th Century Nicolai Copernicus changed our understanding of astronomy and the weather when he put forward the radical idea that the sun, not the Earth, was the centre of the solar system. Up until Copernicus, people believed that the earth was the centre of the solar system. We now know that the earth orbits the sun and, at the same time, spins on an axis that is tilted relative to its plane of orbit. This means that different hemispheres are exposed to different amounts of sunlight throughout the year. Because the sun is our source of light, energy and heat, the concentration of its rays give rise to the seasons of autumn, winter, spring, and summer– summer being the season that gets the most sunlight and warmth depending on the hemisphere. 

5 reasons we feel happier in the summer: 

1 Natural serotonin 

The number one virtue of the summer is of course vitamin D! The sunlight is so important to our homeostasis and mood. There is no doubt that sunlight is vital to our health and mood, and when gained in correct dosages (usually recommended 15 minutes a day), the benefits are significant. For instance, when you get sunlight, your body produces vitamin D from cholesterol, which helps your body absorb calcium. This is important for our bone density and health. Additionally, vitamin D is recommended for preventing diseases, and recovering from certain types of illnesses, depression or even cancer. Natural vitamin D from the sun and food is far more beneficial than the vitamin D in supplements. 

Furthermore, natural sunlight is natural serotonin. Those suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, generally feel better in the summer than in the winter, when this type of depression is generally more prevalent. In cases where natural sunlight is not really an option, doctors might prescribe phototherapy, which exposes patients to light acting in similar ways as the sun.

Unfortunately, too many people in the world are vitamin D deficient, especially those living in regions where there is little sunlight. Natural vitamin D or safe sunlight exposure is not only recommended for everyone but should be naturally prescribed.

2 Natural melatonin

There is a natural balance between light and heat. In the winter, our bodies generate more energy to keep us warm. In the summer, the heat has a soothing effect on the body and mind promoting a more natural and deep sleep. There is a stronger contrast between night and day which gives our bodies a better rhythm or sleep pattern: daytime versus nighttime. Due to the heat and light in combination, we experience a more natural fatigue in summer and hit the sack ready to fall asleep. Daytime and nighttime balance our levels of serotonin and melatonin respectively. 

“We experience a more natural fatigue in summer and hit the sack ready to fall asleep”

3 Looking good for the beach 

As it remains light for longer, we have more time after work to go for a run or a swim or engage in any physical activity. The same goes for before work. We have a stronger natural tendency to go for a workout during the summer months than in the winter where it costs us more of an effort to leave home to exercise when we would rather stay indoors. It’s also exciting and refreshing to look forward to a nice shower to rinse off the sweat! There is, of course, the added motivational drive to get in shape for the beach or for vacation be it women, men or teenagers! 

4 Eating habits

From a biological standpoint, our bodies’ primitive instinct is to stockpile and store up for the winter months ahead. Our eating habits and our body weight fluctuate more easily between the winter and summer months, with people consuming on average 80 calories more each day in the autumn, compared to summer. Some people naturally gain weight during the winter months. The foods that we consume in the winter such as carbs are more sustainable to keep us going throughout the winter. The abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables in summer helps us to make healthier eating choices. 

“The abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables in summer helps us to make healthier eating choices”

5 Social gatherings

Parties, barbecues, you name it. Summer is the perfect time to get together on a terrace, have a picnic, be outdoors and have a good time. It’s the perfect time to kick back and relax after a day at the office and enjoy company, the heat and the light.  

“Summer is the perfect time to get together on a terrace, have a picnic, be outdoors and have a good time”

All in all, with vitamin D comes natural serotonin, with natural sunlight and its warmth, we sleep better, our eating habits change as we enjoy each other’s company, and our desire to look good in a bikini or shorts puts us in a vibrant mood to wear a smile all summer long. Enjoy!