See the Light (Part 2 of 2)
Have you bared your white winter legs to the world yet? Mine have seen the light of day a few times in March, blinding passersby as I boldly walked pants free to pick up the kids from school in sad shorts dug out of the back of a dresser drawer. My objective this week with glorious spring weather was simple: Fulfill my professional and personal obligations while soaking up as much sun as possible.
I have my reasons for seeking out the sun. I am going to Florida in April and don't want to get fried when I'm there, so there's that. But I discussed some of the more important stuff in the prequel to this post that was written...oh, about a year ago (oops!) My convictions on this have become even more cemented in research and practice.
So I want to share with you some of the ways I've been working through this quest for more sunshine, and hopefully inspire some new thoughts and habits. It is not the popular opinion to get more sun. We've all been told for years to use more sunscreen by all of the corporations of the world, but research is constantly revealing that it is actually fake light that is making us sick and weak. This was a great article on that topic of sunscreen, too. And this guy is a great place to start in researching the topic of light.
And it's not just vitamin D. There are too many sources to cite with evidence that disrupted circadian rhythms are a huge contributor to the increasing rates of breast cancer, for example. I digress, but there is so much research to explore that it's hard to know where to start so I want to keep this practical and provocative.
There are habits I've changed in my life to let light from the sun - and at least eliminate some of the 'fake light' - safely work its magic in my own life and my family. I'm not perfect, but I'm better than I was. It's unpopular because there are pills for everything and busyness is a badge of honor (who has time for a walk!?). Alas, the sun is free, and it is good to chill out.
1. I walk outside every single day. I have yet to miss a day in 2021! Sometimes it's very quick, sometimes it's long. I try to simply incorporate it into my life...errands, grocery store, park, school, phone calls, etc. Thankfully we live in a place where this is very doable. Fresh air, stress relief, fitness, healthy circadian rhythm, vitamin D. You have the time, make it happen. (Skip social media for a day - there's your time.) I often listen to a podcast while I'm walking. Or just the birds or Jesus or the kids!
2. I try my best to get outside first thing in the morning, even if it's just for a few minutes. Sometimes I freeze, but it tells my body, "It is time to be awake!" Fun little article on the subject. The signals received by this dose of morning set hormones up for success for the entire day. We all know that hormones basically control everything, so we want them to do their jobs properly. There is ample research on all of this, so dig into it.
3. When I'm working during the day I try to be in the brightest place possible. This week it meant comically trying to take zoom meetings on my front porch in the bright glaring sun. It worked! After our rough winter weather, I was drawn to the sun this week like a mosquito drawn to my legs in the summer. Sometimes it's just parking myself in the sunny corner next to my plants to knock out deadlines.
4. Get your news the old fashioned way. My disdain for staring at my phone to read the news prompted me to subscribe to a PRINT newspaper. That thing that comes to your door. It had been years! This also provides a way to get out for that morning light. Throw on your bathrobe and trek it out there like grandma. I used to work for a newspaper, and now I subscribe to the Wall Street Journal and probably will forever so they need to keep printing it for me. Don't read the news on your phone, because it's 99% clickbait, anyway. I guarantee you'll be smarter and better informed.
5. The elephant in the room. I don't even need to waste time on social media. You know what to do, and here is some inspiration to get you started!
6. Get some blue light blockers. I'm wearing BLUEblox, below. It's also worth researching the effect of sunglasses on your eyes and health. You might be surprised! My eyes and sleep are better because of it.
7. I've been learning about red light therapy. Think of how amazing you feel sitting in front of a nice campfire. Now you can kind of imagine how a red light feels. I have an EMR-TEK Firewave. I am still trying it out so I can't comment yet on a difference it's made or not made, but I have many friends who tout the benefits of red light therapy and there is plenty of research to back them up.
8. Go outside. That's it. You'd be surprised how much you can accomplish outside in a pinch. Or accomplish nothing and lie on your patio like I did on Sunday afternoon like a lazy cat. A very pale one.
That is all on the subject for now. Of course I am not a physician - just a curious journalist, but I contend that our feeble culture can reclaim much of its power by making some serious changes surrounding our light exposure. I do not think it is a coincidence that disease, depression, chronic pain, allergies, etc. are on the rise as our culture continually moves indoors and onto tech. Take the unpopular approach, or at least start by asking the questions.
Below: Writing this in my blue blockers, which thankfully are more stylish than my first few pairs!
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