The winter season can affect all of us differently. Some people embrace the change in weather and truly enjoy the colder temperatures and new activities, while others dread December–February. If you fall into the latter category, you may be more susceptible to symptoms of something called seasonal affective disorder.

Regular exposure to sunlight is not only important in maintaining healthy vitamin D levels, but it also helps support our mental health to help avoid SAD and feelings of depression.

Our AFC Urgent Care NC team explains more about the importance of sun exposure below, so read on.

What Does the Sun Do for My Body?

We need a variety of essential vitamins every day in order to maintain a healthy body, and one of those vitamins can be derived from the sun’s rays! When the sun hits our skin, our bodies naturally start to produce vitamin D. This process is incredibly important because it helps us develop and maintain strong bones.

Getting sun exposure every day also helps us stay in tune with our circadian rhythms. The sun helps guide us through the day and, when it goes down, our bodies start to signal that it is time to sleep by releasing melatonin. Since the sun isn’t as strong and it is colder outside, we often spend more of our days indoors. Because of this, your hormonal balance can get disrupted and you may experience symptoms of seasonal affective disorder including loneliness, guilt, isolation and a loss of joy in previously fun activities.

Simple Ways to Get Sun Exposure

  • Take a nature walk.
  • Do some outdoor chores.
  • Bring your workout outside.
  • Volunteer at a park or garden.

How Do I Know If I Am Getting Enough Vitamin D?

Try to spend between 10 and 30 minutes outside a couple of times a week, ideally in the middle of the day when the sun is the most powerful. (But be sure you’re protecting your skin by applying sunscreen.) That alone can be enough to keep your vitamin D levels in check! If you have a vitamin D deficiency, you can eventually develop a loss of bone density or even osteoporosis.

In addition, keep an eye on your mental health. We all struggle with feelings of occasional loneliness or sadness, but if your feelings are lingering or are starting to impact your daily life, it is time to visit with your care team. Mental health conditions always need to be taken seriously, so make yourself a priority and reach out for help.

Signs of a Vitamin D Deficiency

  • Constant fatigue
  • Bone pain or achiness
  • Hair loss
  • Depression
  • More frequent illnesses

Our AFC Urgent Care NC team is always here for you! Come see us today at one of our locations.