By the time you read this blog post, it will officially be Summer 2018. The 2018 Summer Solstice officially took place at 3:07 a.m. today – Thursday, June 21.
Did you catch yourself smiling or feeling happy about the arrival of summer? In a warm and sunny place year-round like San Diego, you wouldn’t think summer would be such a big deal. But it’s true, there are a lot of things about summer, sunlight, warm weather, and our biophilic connection to nature that make people happier and healthier in the summer months. There’s more and more scientific proof of it. Here are Good Earth Plant Company’s top six reasons why we love summer.
1. Being outside in nature reduces stress
The longer hours and warmer weather naturally draw us outdoors more to enjoy it. We prepare dinner on the grill instead of in the kitchen. We get outside for a walk or jog instead of hitting the gym. We sit outside at happy hour. We smell the flowers blooming and see plants and trees at their colorful best. We enjoy a little more of nature and feel the natural connection we have as human beings to the living things around us. Scientific studies show nature is healing to our physical and mental health and reduces our stress levels. A National Academy of Sciences study showed people who walked for 90 minutes in nature (including parks) weekly have fewer negative thoughts and healthier brain activity than people who walked through urban environments. More research: people experienced a 50 percent increase in creativity after a few days on a hiking trip without any technology. Talk about working smarter and not harder! That’s what summer is about.
2. You’re exposed to fewer viruses and chemicals
When we are indoors in our offices more during colder months, we are exposed to more viruses and chemicals. Blame it on an increased concentration of cleaning products, fumes, and building materials breaking down into toxins, made worse through a combination of poor ventilation and lack of plants to clean the air. We experience the highest rate of exposure to indoor pollutants like nitrogen oxide in the winter. It also makes a lot of sense that we get more colds and flu in winter when we spend more time inside. A National Institute of Health study found that the influenza virus becomes tougher and stronger in winter. Adding more indoor plants can help a lot – but getting outdoors is the gold standard.
3. Sunshine improves your mood
With more hours of daylight, we have more opportunity to soak up a little sunshine, even if it’s only an extra hour or two before or after work. Studies by dermatologists show you produce more serotonin after absorbing even a few extra minutes of UV rays from sunlight. This hormone creates a feeling of happiness and optimism. At the same time, sunlight shuts down your production of melatonin which can make you feel sluggish.
A word of caution, though: if you’re going to be outside for even a few minutes, be sure to apply sunscreen so you don’t blow your good mood with a bummer of a sunburn.
4. Busting a summer move
You have more time in the summer to get outside and be active. It’s a lot more enjoyable to walk the dog after work, go for that bike ride before dinner, or join friends for a friendly softball game. On weekends, the beach and the parks are calling! Increasing your heart rate increases production of endorphins, the hormones that create the “runner’s high,” although any kind of activity that gets your heart pumping will pump up your mood. Even the choice to take a walk outside during your lunch break at work counts. We’re more active thanks to the summer sunshine and anything that gets us off our duffs is a plus.
5. We eat more fresh fruits and vegetables
We’re lucky to enjoy many fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables from local farms in San Diego all year. But we get the very best during the summer months. Summer’s favorite foods including berries, squash, tomatoes and avocados boost your immune system with healthy phytonutrients. So visit your favorite farmer’s market and take advantage of all of summer’s fantastic superfoods.
6. Summer air is cleaner thanks to plants
In spring and especially in summer, plants reach their peak-growing season. They take sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water and convert it into food through photosynthesis. The byproduct of photosynthesis is oxygen, which plants release into the air. What this means for us: our outdoor air is healthier in the summer. Plants take in 25 percent of the carbon emissions produced by human beings every growing season. Now imagine how much greater this effect would be if we planted more trees, added more urban parks to our communities, built more green roofs, and took advantage of community gardens in spring and summer. You can mimic this by adding more plants to your indoor spaces too. Be careful that your plants don’t get summer sunburn in a bright window, though.
So get outside, get into nature, and get happy this summer. And keep the summer feeling going with a little help from Good Earth Plant Company – ask us how you can bring nature into your life year-round.