Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Sunshine, you make me happy

Positive thinker Norman Vincent Peale used to recommend that if you feel sad, just think of the sun...Not go out and bask--just think of it.

Now--researchers at Brigham Young say the time between sunrise and sunset is the period that matters most for mental and emotional health. This goes for everyone, not just people with seasonal affective disorder.

And within that period, sunshine keeps the level of emotional distress stable.

Forget hot or cold temps, air pollution, and maybe even threatening rainclouds--these won't get you down, but lack of sunlight will.

Winter has fewer sun hours--and thus is a busier time for therapists, the researchers said (J of Affective Disorders).

Mark Beecher, clinical prof and licensed psychologist at BYU, and Lawrence Reed, a physics prof there combined forces. Rees had weather data for Provo, Utah--Beecher had emotional health data for the same area.

They analyzed several variables such as wind chill, rainfall, solar radiance, wind speed, temperature, and more. The weather data could be analyzed down to the minute in the exact area where the psychological clients lived. And they used a mental health treatment outcome measure, rather than suicide attempts or online diaries, to analyze psychological distress.

Amount of sun was the determining factor in lack of distress.

I live in the Sonoran Desert, where it is sunny most days--and you may be heard, this makes it HOT. But even on the hottest day, it's all about the sun to me--a clinical sample of one.

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