There’s so much to love about winter, isn’t there? Snow angels! Christmas! Food! Being cosy! Erm… Christmas! And also… hang on, did we mention snow angels?
Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, winter often seems to drag on once Christmas Day has come and gone and we’ve already forgotten about our New Year’s resolutions. And also – hear us out – we’re pretty certain that there’s some kind of fairytale-like conspiracy at play between winter and spring. One that means the time between January 1st and April 1st is in fact TEN WHOLE YEARS LONG and someone has slowed down the earth to make us endure the last rubbish bits of winter for what feels like a lifetime.
But then something magical happens. Sunshine appears! And because we’re so run down by the neverending winter, this hint of spring feels completely amazing. We barely believe it’s here. It becomes a conversation starter. We desperately want to be outside ALL THE TIME. We dig out our nicest summer wear out of the back of the wardrobe/Narnia.
And we’re not alone, the sun makes everything – and everyone – feel roughly 80% better than before. Here’s why:
Everything somehow, kinda magically, just looks better
Your rubbish bus ride to school! That dress you hate! The guy or girl who has a crush on you! Suddenly when the sun starts shining on the things we had already said a big fat ‘NO’ to, they start to look more appealing.
It’s hard to tell whether that’s because everything does actually look rubbish when it’s being rained on and all grey or whether you’re just a happier, more tolerant and all round better person now it’s nearly spring. We’ll never know. But when every damn thing is so sparkly and gorgeous, who even cares.
You can ditch your big winter coat and play with clothes
It’s tricky to experiment with clothes when it’s bloody freezing outside. Unless you want to spend all your time shivering, you’ll likely ditch the idea of a nice outfit in favour of SURVIVAL. But now the sun is shining, your options are limitless! Firstly, you can leave the huge winter coat your mum insists you wear at home, or even put it away under your bed for next year. So long, sucker! Then you have way more options; skirts, dresses, brighter colours, layers, denim jackets. Even if you couldn’t care less about fashion it’s nice to shrug off the woolly layers and feel the sunshine on your arms for a change.
Science says it really is good for your health
It’s hard to tell whether something is good because our minds say it is, or whether because it genuinely, scientifically, actually is, like ice cream or a Netflix marathon. But according to studies, the sunshine really does have all kinds of health-boosting effects, because when the sun’s rays hit your skin it creates Vitamin D – and that D, well, he’s one helluva vitamin. He can keep your bones healthy, protect against diseases and SO much more.
f you worry a lot, it’s one less thing to have on your list
If you’re prone to worrying then even the smallest things can cause you a lot of stress and tension. Don’t worry, we know how it feels. But when the sun’s out, you’ve got a few less things to keep on your list. Like not needing a big coat or a spare layer with you, or worrying about rain ruining a day out, or a huge gust of wind sticking your newly-washed hair to your lip gloss.
You feel just a little bit better about everything
Even the happiest, most positive people tend to feel a little mood boost when the sun comes out. Researchers and doctors say there are proper, medical reasons for a sunnier mood when it’s a sunnier day, like Vitamin D and sunshine increasing levels of serotonin (the feelgood hormone). But it could also be because of all the other reasons in this list too – it’s just harder to feel sad or stressed when you have more reasons to be outside, and an all-round lovelier start to the day.
You’re more likely to socialise
If you’re a sparkling social butterfly all year round then well done you and everything, but many of us feel a little bit anti-social during winter time. Maybe it’s because we want to hibernate like bears do, maybe it’s a caveman thing and we want to stay warm or maybe we’re just plain lazy and don’t like going out when it’s raining because: effort. But when the sun’s out, it feels easier to go out and do things and see people and be a normal human. Which is delightful.
You’re more likely to exercise, too
Just like socialising, the thought of running about in the icy rain is only likely to appeal to the most hardcore fitness fans. But as soon as it gets sunny, it’s a million times easier to find ways to keep fit – like running through the park, doing a bit of aerobics outside in your garden, going swimming in an outdoor pool (or the sea if you’re really brave) or just choosing to walk everywhere rather than take the bus. Thanks for making us fitter, Mr Sunshine!
It’s easier to do your hair – and care about it looking nice
Because when it might rain, be really windy or even snow, many of us find it’s not worth putting a lot of effort into how our hair looks. Look, it’ll get wet or covered in a hat soon anyway. But when it’s sunny, there’s less chance of it getting all messed up mere seconds after walking out the door and more chance you’ll suddenly want to put a bit of effort into it, follow some new YouTube tutorials, maybe even experiment with a perky up-do…
But if you don’t care about your hair, that’s great too! Because as it gets warmer, the low maintenance look gets easier too because you can let your hair air-dry without risking pneumonia. Win-win.
Waking up is way easier
Waking up to sunshine might just feel good because our minds say it’s good. “The weather’s nice and bright!” our overactive brains say, “so maybe that means today will be nice and bright too?”. But according to science, being woken up by sunshine – especially if it’s gradual – switches off the melatonin in your body, which is the stuff that helps you sleep. So it’ll make you feel more awake to be greeted with sunshine rather than clouds because all your cells are kicking into gear and getting you pumped up for the day.
Your memory works better
This isn’t the case for everyone, but some researchers have found that sunlight can really de-fuzz your mind. It’s all to do with that super Vitamin D again, which has been shown to improve memory in recent studies and can even have long-term positive effects on your brain box too, like reducing the risk of dementia. Maybe now is the time to finally learn your French verbs, peut-être?
Stuff hurts less
Researchers haven’t quite got to the bottom of why people tend to report feeling slightly less pain when it’s sunny. It could be to do with your mood again – or it could be because the sunshine helps to slightly warm up your body, which means you’re less likely to feel stiff. Either way, we’ll take a few less aches next time we have to do cross country, ta.
Your skin feels nicer
Although you really need to make sure your skin is always protected with SPF – yep, even in the UK – a little bit of sunshine can help to clear up minor skin conditions, like eczema, psoriasis and acne, and helps dry skin feel less sandpapery too (although you defs want to have a chat with your GP before you start sunbathing ‘as medicine’).
It’s so special and magical because it doesn’t last long
It’s a sad fact about living in the UK: the weather is largely sucky and unpredictable. A sunny morning has been known to turn into torrential rain, thunderstorms, blustery winds and back round to sunshine again all before we’ve had our lunch. Which makes a lot of us feel angry at the weather. But in fact, it should really make the sun feel extra-special, because we so rarely get any.
I mean, just think how boring it’d be to live in a place with sunshine all day. You’d just be so happy all the time. And warm. And your memory would be great. And you’d feel less pain. And… ohh ok. Let’s all move to Spain, yeah?
The sunshine has a buttload of benefits, but it can also be dangerous if you sit out in it too long. Always wear sun cream with a good high SPF (30 or over) if you’re going to be out in it for more than half an hour or so – or even less in summer.
And ps. it’s okay to bloody hate the summer too. Don’t feel ashamed of preferring cosy nights by the fire to a beach holiday. This is Britain – the clouds and rain will come back round soon enough…
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Image: Katie Edmunds