It’s winter, January 2023. Today is cold, grey, drizzly, and windy. A typical British winter’s day. Not the sort of conditions that inspire us to get outside.
In the cold winter months, it can be easy for days to fly by without leaving your home, especially if you work from home too.
We’re all for downtime and restoration at home, often it’s just what we need to recoup after a long year, but too much time inside can be unhealthy, disconnecting us from nature, affecting our sleep, causing our moods to lower, and natural vitamin levels to decline.
As with most things, we strive to achieve that magical balance. It’s all down to the individual, but we can sense when the cabin fever is creeping in, and the outdoors is calling.
We understand all too well, how sunlight and nature can positively impact our mental and physical wellbeing – no matter the season. So, what better time to talk about the benefits of watching the sunrise, especially in the short days of Winter.
We hope our guide for 10 benefits to watching the sunrise, will encourage you to absorb some winter sun, uplift your mood, and improve your winter well-being.
When sunlight hits your skin, it prompts your body to produce Vitamin D. Typically, from October to early March we spend less time outside or are mostly covered up if we are, so naturally our Vitamin D levels begin to decline. Vitamin D plays an important role in facilitating natural immune system function, so as our levels of Vitamin D lower, so too does the ability of our immune system to fight off illness. Ever wondered why we get so ill during the autumn/winter months?
Not only does Vitamin D help to support our immune system but it also plays an important role in our mood, as it influences the production and release of serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain which helps to stabilise your mood, as well as your feelings of happiness and well-being.
Sunlight also induces the production of serotonin, as it stimulates the retinas in your eyes, prompting your brain to produce serotonin. Naturally when the days are shorter, and we spend less time outside our serotonin production is decreased. Heard of the winter blues?
#3 REDUCES STRESS
We’ve heard time and time again that spending time outside is good for our physical and mental health. Research has shown that spending just 20 minutes outside in nature is connected to large decline in cortisol, which is responsible for our levels of stress. Cortisol aka the stress hormone is a natural element of healthy human function, but too much over a long period of time can have a significantly negative impact on our physical health.
#4 IMPROVES SLEEP
We have an internal body clock, known as our circadian rhythm. This controls and effects all bodily functions, like hunger cues, and our physical and mental wellbeing. Interestingly our circadian rhythm is primarily controlled by light. Exposure to sunlight in the morning helps to set our internal body clock which supports a natural sleep cycle, PLUS reduced cortisol and natural levels of serotonin also support a better night’s sleep.
#5 IMPROVES ALERTNESS
Physically watching the sunrise is a great signal to our brains that it is time to start the day as sunlight tells our master clock to generate alertness, which in turn keeps us awake and sets us up for the day.
P.S. When we say watching the sunrise we don’t mean staring directly at the sun, do take care here.
#6 ENCOURAGES US TO BE PRESENT
When witnessing the spectacle of colours in the sky as the sun rises it’s almost impossible to not stop and appreciate the moment. In today’s hectic world, moments of calm are few and far between and finding time to be completely present, even if it’s just for five minutes, it’s so important for our well-being.
#7 GIVES US SOME QUALITY TIME
How often do we get quality, uninterrupted time out for ourselves or with someone we love? It’s like gold dust these days! But we can discover moments in our day where we achieve just that, and sunrise is the perfect setting. Waking up early before the noise and crowds and absorbing all the physical benefits of the experience either alone or with a loved one is a great way to start your day.
#8 CALM START TO THE DAY
The physical reaction of lowered cortisol means you can start your day in a relaxed state of mind. When you start your day here, you carry this throughout the rest of your day, meaning you are better equipped to handle it.
#9 TIME AWAY FROM DEVICES
We spend a good chunk of our days on our phones, computers, and other devices. Carving out a little time every morning for nature allows us to take a much-needed break from these devices.
#10 CONNECTION TO NATURE
Behind nature connection is the idea of creating opportunities for you to have a break from the constant grind of modern life. Nature connection is about having meaningful experiences outdoors, in nature. Take the sunrise in this case. We know there are many physical and mental benefits to the sunrise itself, but did you know that there is growing evidence which shows that connection to nature has a positive effect of people’s health and wellbeing too.
The benefits you can get out of an everyday natural occurrence is quite mind blowing!
There are plenty more where this came from, but here’s a start.