Sunlight Helps to Ease My Stress and Anxiety
Throughout the past week, the weather has been gorgeous. After weeks of seemingly endless rain, terrible mud that’s taken a real toll on me physically, and generally depressing weather, it’s been a true mood-lifter to see the sun and milder temperatures.
I love many things about winter, such as soups and stews, cozy sweaters, reading a book on the couch with my cats, and snow days. And if I had to pick a weather extreme, I’d always pick cold over stifling heat and humidity. But spring is really my happy place.
As I discussed in my last column, my stress and anxiety levels have been pretty high recently. I think that’s been the case with most people I know. There’s been a lot of talk on the news about the effects of pandemic-related stress. That’s caused me to feel more anxious than I would otherwise. I suspect that’s true of many who already had anxiety prior to the start of COVID-19. Combine that with the fact that I’ve been having a pain flare, and I’ve really been feeling the stress.
I’ve found over the years that my pain and anxiety levels are closely linked. If my stress and anxiety levels go up, I feel it in my muscle tightness and pain. Similarly, relaxing mentally helps me feel better physically.
While I’ve talked about some daily habits that help me be more productive and allow for effective time management, one of the best ways for me to relax is one that’s completely out of my control: sunlight. There is a well-documented connection between sunlight and mood, and I’ve felt the effects of the dark and dreary weather that’s covered the mid-Atlantic recently, as have most people I’ve talked with.
There’s something that’s inherently relaxing about going outside on a beautiful spring day. As cliché as it sounds, it’s bright, just warm enough, and everything’s turning green. You can hear the birds and the breeze rustling through the new leaves on the trees. I’ve always loved the outdoors, so it’s probably not surprising that I find it so cathartic.
I try to take time when the weather is nice to eat my lunch outside, even if only briefly. It’s a break from my office, which unfortunately has no windows, and a time to catch up with co-workers. Even a short time outside revitalizes my energy and gets me ready for the afternoon.
After work, I’m thankful to usually spend several hours outside doing chores, riding my horse, and just enjoying the nice weather when it comes. Spring is here, COVID-19 vaccinations are underway, and there’s starting to be just the barest flicker of light at the end of this long pandemic tunnel.
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