QUIZ – Which Matters Most to Mental Health? Rain, Temperature, Sunshine or Pollution

sunshine matters mental health

By Heather Callaghan, Editor

There’s no denying that nature – and our exposure to it – has a profound effect on our mental well-being.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is only considered a disorder because of how many people are deeply impacted by rain and winter. After all, the winter months are said to be the busiest for therapists.

Recently, Brigham Young University researchers wanted to figure out which of these factors affects mental and emotional health most: rain, temperature, sunshine or pollution.

Before we reveal the results, we invite you to take this quiz and guess. Below are more details on the results.

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Take the quiz and share! Which of the following factors matter most to mental health – then answer the other questions and read for more details.

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The BYU study is unique because a psychologist, physicist and statistician collaborated on the research. They found that the amount of time between sunrise and sunset is the weather variable that matters most to mental and emotional health.

You can have hot, sticky and irritable days with looming rain storms and even plumes of air pollution…but you’ll be all right if you can soak up some sun!

For the general population – not just those with SAD – if you’re able to soak up enough sun, your level of emotional distress should remain stable, they say. “Take away sun time, though, and your distress can spike.”

Mark Beecher, clinical professor and licensed psychologist in BYU Counseling and Psychological Services said:

That’s one of the surprising pieces of our research…On a rainy day, or a more polluted day, people assume that they’d have more distress. But we didn’t see that. We looked at solar irradiance, or the amount of sunlight that actually hits the ground. We tried to take into account cloudy days, rainy days, pollution . . . but they washed out. The one thing that was really significant was the amount of time between sunrise and sunset.

The researchers removed just about every weather and mental-health related variables they possibly could in order to reach the consensus that sunshine is the most important weather variable to mental and emotional health.

The variety and sheer amount of artificial light is having harmful effects on human health. There’s no doubt that natural sunshine is better for your mental, physical and emotional well-being than living like we are in some kind of bunker.

Sunshine has been studied for its workplace benefits as well. Daylight is among the top desired “perks” among employees. Sunshine has been shown to increase productivity and work performance. But the benefits get carried home from work – that workplace sunshine helps increase sleep quality, physical activity and overall quality of life.

In 2014, researchers declared that sunshine could reduce the risk of death from all causes. In fact, they said,

We suspect that the benefits to heart health of sunlight will outweigh the risk of skin cancer.

Furthermore, Previous research by Northwestern scientists showed that people who received most of their bright natural daylight before noon had the most weight loss benefits.

Could the pituitary gland factor into all of these benefits?

When you allow your eyes to get some sunshine (not direct staring, of course) the energy reaches and stimulates the pituitary gland increasing feel-good hormones and possibly helping the HPA-axis (hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis) with female and male hormones. (Additional source on sungazing.) Since this is one of the biggest endocrinological taskmasters in the whole body, we can see why a little sunshine each morning is a really big deal! Plus, we don’t want to forget about the effects of vitamin D – there is a strong association between low vitamin D levels and depression.

So open your eyes, leave off with the glasses and try to get that office desk by the window – take those morning walks you’ve been putting off while scrolling though the glaring smartphone.

What do you think – did this information convince you get more of the world’s best and freest remedies? (It did for me – I’m throwing open the windows now!) Comment and Share!

Journal Reference:

  1. Mark E. Beecher, Dennis Eggett, Davey Erekson, Lawrence B. Rees, Jennie Bingham, Jared Klundt, Russell J. Bailey, Clark Ripplinger, Jessica Kirchhoefer, Robert Gibson, Derek Griner, Jonathan C. Cox, R.D. Boardman. Sunshine on my shoulders: Weather, pollution, and emotional distress. Journal of Affective Disorders, 2016; 205: 234 DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2016.07.021
  2. Brigham Young University. “Sunshine matters a lot to mental health; temperature, pollution, rain not so much: Psychologist, physicist and statistician collaborate on unique study.” ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161103141718.htm (accessed November 10, 2016).

Image: pixabay, NB


This article (Which Matters Most to Mental Health? Rain, Temperature, Sunshine or Pollution) can be republished with attribution to Heather Callaghan, source article and Natural Blaze.com, keeping all links and bio intact

Heather Callaghan is an independent researcher, writer, speaker and food freedom activist. She is the Editor and co-founder of NaturalBlaze.

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