Photo courtesy Madeline McClellan

Sunny Shepherd: Does Sunlight Equal Happiness?

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va.,— Shepherd University students discussed their experiences with mental health and the rising temperatures.   

It has been a year since schools shut down and distance learning became the norm. Shepherd University students advocate for mental health by opening up about their mindset in relation to sunshine.  

Something quarantine and the winter months share is staying indoors so when the temperature outside increases, so does the communal involvement.    

“I thought today was gorgeous. I FELT gorgeous because of it, and I can’t wait for it to be 68 degrees or warmer multiple days in a row. Multiple days in a row is the key” said Taylor Linton.

Vitamin D as well as exposure to mother nature has been linked to increased wellbeing as well as temporary happiness. 

Medical News Today notes that the skin produces the most vitamin D during the middle of the day when the sun is at its highest point in the sky. They also say that a person with lighter skin will need to soak up the sun for about 15 minutes to receive their vitamin D, but people with darker skin may need to be in the sun for a few hours. 

As for daily struggles faced, several students replied with having Seasonal Affective Disorder (also known as S.A.D) as well as clinical disorders. “I have bipolar disorder, so this daunting feeling is all the time,” said Melissa Easter.  

“I went on a hike—so that was great—I walked my dog and even got to drive with the sunroof down,” said Emily Rogers. 

Staying healthy involves far more than just appearance; keeping a healthy mind and seeking help when you need it is impertinent and should never be ignored.  

“I feel like I have been reborn, I feel like a new person,” said Easter when asked how she felt in regard to the sun after a long winter. 

“I have seasonal affective disorder, so that makes it really hard for me in the colder months to complete schoolwork,” said Rogers.  

“I think that a lack of vitamin D in the wintertime is a huge part of why people are depressed, including us. Sunny weather just makes you feel warm, it makes you feel good,” said Collin Brown.   

Connecting yourself to the world around you may drastically uplift your seasonal funk, “I try to walk on campus whenever it is warm outside to remind myself that I am alive and present and that I get to live another day. Just by replacing my means of transportation has reminded me that this feeling will pass, just like the seasons around us,” said Elizabeth Ray.  

“Mental health is very important, our feelings are valid, and we should not be afraid to express how we feel,” said Easter. 

It is important to remember that when in the sun for longer than 15 minutes you should wear sunscreen to protect your skin. 

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