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10 Surprising Health Benefits Of Sunshine That Make You Love The Sun More

10 Surprising Health Benefits Of Sunshine That Make You Love The Sun More

Maybe you are worried that too much sunlight can cause cancer? It is just one of the multiple causes so there is no need to get hung up about it. We are bombarded by messages to use sunblock all the time, even in winter. But sunblock may contain potential carcinogens, so you begin to wonder who is telling the truth. The answer is that there are no black and white answers but in the midst of all the hype, there are surprising benefits from staying in the sun, provided you do not overdo it!

Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, praised sunlight’s great benefits. It is no surprise that the word for light therapy is heliotherapy which comes from the Greek god Helios, god of the sun.

Here are 10 great health benefits which should make you treasure your time in the sun.

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1. Sunlight may actually help to prevent cancer

Drs. Frank and Cedric Garland discovered that the lack of sunlight might be one explanation for the high rate of colon cancer in the New York area, compared to that in New Mexico. Sunlight helps us to produce vitamin D which can help to prevent certain cancers.

2. Sunshine can prevent health problems

We should remember that we produce most of our own Vitamin D, at no extra cost. It is done by a complex process in which our skin reacts to sunlight. If you have enough Vitamin D, you can avoid all sorts of health problems.

Vitamin D deficiency can result in dementia, tooth decay, compromised immune system, and osteoporosis. As 77 percent of Americans have a vitamin D deficiency, this is becoming an urgent health problem. The best way to stock up on this is to eat certain food rich in vitamin D (fish and fortified milk) and also to get at least one and a half hours of direct sunlight each week.

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3. Sunshine can help with depression

Another chemical (serotonin) which affects your mood is produced when sunlight reaches the retina. This process sends a signal through the optic nerve which helps to increase levels of serotonin and boosts your mood. It is well known that most anti-depressants (SSRIs) work on the principle of artificially making sure that serotonin levels are high, thus warding off depression. Now, isn’t a good dose of sunshine better than Prozac?

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.” – Helen Keller

4. Sunshine can help to kill bacteria

To understand what happens here, we have to go way back to the work of Niels Finsen which won him a Nobel Prize in 1903.  He discovered that treatment of certain diseases (such as lupus) with light therapy was perfectly feasible. He showed that light rays, rather than heat, had a powerful antibacterial effect.

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5. Sunshine may help you live longer

The University of Graz in Austria followed several thousand heart patients for a number of years. They found that there was a correlation between earlier death and low levels of vitamin D. The study suggests that longevity may well be affected by maintaining optimal levels of vitamin D. The best and cheapest way is to get more sunshine.

6. It helps to curb your appetite

Keeping up your levels of Vitamin D, either through supplements or by getting more sunshine, can actually help you keep that appetite under control. These were the conclusions reached by the University of Aberdeen after they had studied 3,000 women for a two year period. Guess what?  Those who had more problems with obesity also had low levels of Vitamin D.

7. Sunshine helps you sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep seems unrelated because the sun has long gone down. But your normal sleep-wake cycle has to be maintained. Researchers now say that one essential element to favor the production of melatonin (sleep hormone produced at night) is to get sunshine at the same time every day.

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8. Sunshine and vitamin D may improve lung function

Most smokers compromise the health and function of their lungs, if the habit lasts for years. One study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Crucial Care Medicine found that once vitamin D levels were maintained, then the actual decline in lung health was arrested.

9. Sunshine can help with blood pressure

It is no surprise to learn that the Danes do not get much sunshine in the winter months. In fact, studies have shown that in the month of February, 80 percent of Danes have very low levels of vitamin D. Some studies show that women who are suffering from vitamin D deficiency are more likely to suffer from hypertension fifteen years later. This was one of the take home messages from a recent conference hosted by the European Society of Hypertension.

10. Do it yourself health benefits

Sunshine is still free and as we produce almost all of our own vitamin D, then the whole process becomes so easy. I cannot think of a better way of looking after our health. We just need to remember to take adequate protection and to do everything in moderation.

“Everything in moderation, including moderation.”- Oscar Wilde

Featured photo credit: Couple in sunshine/Pavlina Jane via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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