The Powerful Effects Sunlight Has on Your Health

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Seattle. The land of endless green trees, roaring Seahawks fans, coffee-obsessed hipsters and techies, a killer music scene, and virtually no natural disasters (aside from flooding, for obvious reasons.)

So why on earth would anyone want to leave?

It’s dark. Like, really dark, with it’s gray, gloomy skies lurking overhead, blocking any source of natural sunlight. And it’s wet. All the damn time.

It’s true that Washington State has some of the best hiking, lakes, mountains, trails, water sports, and outdoors adventures to offer in the US.

But the weather only allows Seattleites to enjoy said activities for about 6 weeks out of the year…which means the crowd during those 6 weeks is like Disneyland on steroids.

For me, Seattle is home. It will always be home and somewhere that I love coming back to. But the lack of sunshine, pasty white skin, and spending my weekends holed up inside of blanket forts to keep warm while binge watching The Walking Dead was enough to make me go nearly insane.

During my very long, and cold 26 years living in Seattle, I got little exercise (aside from those magical 6 weeks of summer), I tried to eat healthy but fruits and salad only made me more cold (so I usually opted for something warmer and far less healthy), and my mood frequently matched the dark skies outside.

One day, as I was dreaming of being on a beach somewhere with the warm sand between my toes – as I frequently did – I decided it was finally time to get the hell out of there.

As I shared on my about page, I spontaneously took off to travel the world. I ended up backpacking all over Southeast Asia, and then living in Australia for a year. Aside from the occasional monsoon, it was sunny all the time.

I walked everywhere; I hiked several times a week; I swam in the ocean; I just explored and soaked in all the beauty each place had to offer. My fat became muscle, I got a killer tan, and I adopted a vegetarian lifestyle to go all-in with this new healthy way of living.

I felt the best I had ever felt in my life. When it was time to return back to the US after 14 months abroad, it didn’t take long for the gloom of Seattle to start washing over me and reverting me back to my old ways. I only stayed for a few weeks before making the spontaneous decision (again) to move to sunny California!

Again, it proved to be the best decision I could have made. This time, I opted to buy a bicycle and ride everywhere instead of buy a car. In my new life in Cali, I work early hours so that I can spend time outdoors every weekday afternoon. On the weekends, I disconnect and go exploring.

And all of this is possible because of one reason: the sun!

I live in the Bay Area, and at the time of writing this (the first day of Fall), it’s still been in the 80’s and 90’s here almost every day. But even on days like today, where it was still clear blue skies, but with a high of 68 degrees, I still felt the warmth and glow of the sun, both on my skin and on my spirits.

It’s not just me – the sun is scientifically proven to heal both our bodies and our minds.

Perhaps you’ve heard of SAD? Not cry-at-the-end-of-Armageddon sad, but Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – the mood disorder that turns even the energetic Piglet types into sluggish, depressed Eeyores because of long, dark days of winter.

Well, Seattle is full of Eeyores because they have like 10 months of winter there. Punxsutawney Phil couldn’t even be bothered to pop out of his hole on Groundhog’s Day.

SAD is no joke. Symptoms include: mood swings, anxiety, sleep problems, or even suicidal thoughts.

Aside from the mental effect sunlight has on our thoughts and mood, it’s also (as I’m sure everyone already knows) the primary source of Vitamin D.

While it’s true that too much sun can cause skin cancer, too little sun can also cause cancer. Vitamin D deficiencies can lead to the development of prostate and breast cancer, heart disease, memory loss, and an increased risk for developing dementia and schizophrenia.

I love this quote from the article I linked to above – according to

Summer is “a period of fruition, fulfillment, happiness, or beauty.”
Winter is “a period of time characterized by coldness, misery, barrenness, or death.”

So you can understand why I would want to move somewhere with endless summers! Or at least, year-round sunshine.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love the occasional “sweater weather” and I’ve always been a big fan of roaring thunderstorms, but one of the top reasons I wanted to become a digital nomad – is so that I can chase the sunshine and be happy all year long!

Want to learn more about how The Positive Change Co. ties into my digital nomad lifestyle? Start here.

Bre Fowler

Hi, I'm Bre - the founder of The Positive Change Co! In early 2015, I left my familiar life in Seattle, WA behind to travel the world and become a digital nomad. Traveling as a LIFESTYLE completely transformed me. It was during my first big trip abroad in SE Asia and Australia that I found my passion for healthy living, addiction for personal growth, and a profound sense of purpose in the world. The Positive Change Co. is about more than just eating healthy and taking care of your body, it's about becoming the best possible version of yourself so that you can offer your best self to others and live a more meaningful life.

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