Mindfully Soaking in the Sun

Posted On Sep 09, 2016

One of the last things that someone wants to do when they are depressed is to go outside.  Forcing oneself to go to work, school, and errands doesn’t necessarily count as they may also be related to the stressors that triggered depression in the first place.  The urge is to stay home, not talk to anyone, avoid, lay in bed, and even close the shutters.  However, these provide no added meaning and value to one’s life. And in the end, it further reinforces and strengthens the grip of depression over our lives and even our families. 

Of course, there are a multitude of treatment options.  You’ve heard of or may have even been on any of the antidepressants.  There is therapy, obviously, but that too can feel like a burden given low energy and motivation to even face the day-to-day responsibilities.  As a way to begin slowly boosting energy in order to better face the daily tasks, or even give you that push to seek and engage in mental health treatment, one must begin with baby steps…

Here is when I tie in mindfulness practice and what the universe readily provides on a regular basis, the sun (unless you’re in Seattle!!!). Go outside…but really go outside and just notice as if it’s the very first time you’ve had such an experience…Feel the warmth of the sun on your skin, your face, your head, your hands.  Soak it up.  Take wonder at the magnificence of the sun, just don’t look directly at it!  Sit somewhere outside, try for 5 minutes, and notice the warmth of the sun radiating all around you.  Maybe the next time try it for 6 minutes…

So where’s the science behind all of this??  Good question!

Mindfulness based practices have become increasingly popular for the past few decades.  Thankfully, there is much research supporting the benefits of mindfulness skills on a number of emotional issues, including depression. The more mindful we are, meaning paying nonjudgmental attention to the here-and-now, the less reactive our “emotional” brain is and the greater the capacity of engaging with the “rational” brain.  For more information, refer to the American Mindfulness Research Association (goamra.org), which compiles all of the latest studies on the effectiveness of mindfulness skills.

The glorious sun.. gives us our daily dose of Vitamin D.  Vitamin D has been shown to enhance mood and energy.  Vitamin D has also been shown to impact chemicals in the brain, including serotonin, which is commonly understood as one of the key biological factors in depression.

Going outside…just moving can help our mood.  This is tied to behavioral activation theory, simply meaning that the more we move and engage with the world, the more we encounter positive experiences with the environment.  And who doesn’t want that??

So get up, go outside, soak in the sun…and don’t forget to put on sunscreen 

Mirna Mejia, PhD

2306 Lake Austin Blvd Austin TX 78703

Behavioral activation
Hello!! I am a licensed clinical psychologist and my goal is to help every client achieve a more balanced and meaningful life. Whether it's by helping you sleep better, manage your pain more effectively, or facilitate the healing process following a trauma or loss, my aim is to ease suffering and get you back on track to health & resiliency as quickly as possible!