Harness the Sun for Grief Relief

In the summertime, when the weather is fine, the full force of the sun is out. There are many warnings about overexposure to the sun. Those claims are true, but they often stop people from getting the significant benefits of sunlight and Vitamin D, especially helpful in a time of stress.  Grief is very stressful and can be more intense in the summertime, while trying to cope in a season known for lightheartedness and fun when you don't feel light-hearted.

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Vitamin D has powerful effects on many systems in your body.  Every single cell has a receptor for it.  Sunlight hitting your skin helps reverse the "blues" of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).  It also releases nitric oxide which brings blood pressure down and helps lower heart attack and stroke risk.  It can also boost the immune system and energy.

Although it is important to guard against too much sun, under exposure to sunlight can lead to significant health risks, similar to obesity, smoking, or being sedentary.  Vitamin D is also found in some fatty fish and fortified dairy products, but it is very difficult to get enough from diet alone and deficiency is very common.

Here are 4 tips to help you get an adequate amount of Vitamin D and make the most of your summer sunshine while walking through the challenges of loss and mourning.

#1: Get outside

Taking a Vitamin D supplement is helpful but research showed that sunshine is more productive at making Vitamin D in your body.  Sunlight tells your body to release Vitamin D related hormones like serotonin.  Low serotonin levels have been linked to depression. Simple things like a short walk or reading on the patio on a sunny day will provide benefits.  

#2: Eat well – outside

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We are learning the importance of eating clean and unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, and protein and cutting down on fat and sugar.  Good food “fuel” affects our physical health but also our mental health. To make eating healthy more fun, enjoy fresh air and sunshine on the patio while you enjoy lunch or a glass of iced tea.

#3: Hold the sunglasses a bit

When sunlight hits the retina, the production of serotonin begins which helps your frame of mind and your circadian rhythm to set you up for a better night’s sleep so give your eyes a brief chance to benefit without overexposing your eyes. 

#4: Be smart about your sun

There are great benefits of sunlight but over exposure still has risks. Depending on your skin type, medications and health, limiting yourself to 10-20 minutes a day, before 10 am or after 3 pm without sunscreen is a general guide.  Ensure you have a good sunblock or cover up if you are outside longer.  If getting outdoors is a problem,  a sunlamp or a Vitamin D supplement will still give you many of the benefits but take advantage of the good weather while you can.

It's estimated that about 1 billion people worldwide have low levels of Vitamin D.  Carefully increasing your sun exposure or a adding a Vitamin D supplement can offer big benefits for your health and help ease the difficult grief journey.

Love and Hugs, 

Helga

If you are facing loss, find out the best ways to renew your resilience in a complimentary coaching session with me.  Contact me through my resouces page or e-mail me at coach@helgabender.com

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