Welcome to Day One of the Winter Wellbeing Challenge, which is packed full of all sorts of great be-kind-to-yourself stuff with one new activity to do every day. Boost your happiness, wellbeing and health with these free and low cost ideas. Today’s theme is Making the most of daylight – something we all need to do at this time of year.
Daylight is something that makes just about everyone feel more cheerful, optimistic and positive. Today, let’s go out for a walk in daylight for half an hour or so, if possible. Autumn and winter in the UK can be cold and grey with relatively fewer hours of daylight, which can make us a bit tired or grumpy, or feel like hibernating, or have cravings for stodgy food. A little time spent in daylight can be a welcome boost to your mood, and it’s completely free.
During spring and summer the sunlight is strongest between 11am and 3pm, but it can have a beneficial effect earlier in the morning and later in the afternoon too. In autumn and winter the hour around midday tends to be the best time to find the strongest sunlight. It doesn’t even have to be bright and sunny weather, you can still benefit from the light even if it’s cloudy or drizzling and there’s no direct sunshine.
It’s up to you whether you:
- Go for a stroll or a hike
- Walk the dog
- Go out and cycle or do other exercise
- Do some gardening or work on the outside of your home
- Sit outside a cafe with a tea, coffee or a big mug of hot chocolate
- Walk to the shops instead of taking the car or bus
Many activities that can improve mood and increase happiness are interlinked, for example taking exercise outdoors or going on a nature walk can serve to give you an even bigger boost today. Wrap up warmly if it’s chilly outside, because getting too cold definitely doesn’t make most people happy.
A quick note about Vitamin D
We all know sunlight can improve your mood, but it has other positive effects too. The action of sunlight on the skin creates vitamin D, which is needed for healthy bones, teeth and muscles in adults and children. While vitamin D can be found in some foods, most people get the best part of their intake from exposure to daylight, especially during spring and summer months.
According to the NHS, around one in five people in the UK has low vitamin D levels, and since 2016 Public Health England have recommended that adults and children over the age of one should have 10 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin D every day. This means that many people should consider taking a supplement, especially during autumn and winter. Try the Penny Sale at Holland & Barrett this month for some big discounts on Vitamin D supplements if you need to stock up.
By the way, if the weather’s terrible outside, such as heavy rain or extreme cold, try sitting by a window for an hour from midday instead. While you won’t make vitamin D from the light that passes through window glass, you can still gain some psychological benefits from the relatively brighter level of daylight.
Invest in your future health & happiness
If you find that getting more daylight makes you feel good, keep up the good work. You could:
- Switch up your daily routine to include more time outside in daylight this month
- Paint the walls of your home with light reflective paint to make it feel brighter
- Plan to take holidays in the darker months – sunshine or snow breaks both give a daylight boost
The darker months can be especially difficult for some of us, so make an appointment to see your GP if you have a low mood or think you might have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), there’s lots of help available.
I’m taking a walk around a nearby park during my lunch break. How are you going to get your dose of daylight today?