How often do you think about the sun? I mean really think about what it does for your life, consider how it helps you get through your days?
Before moving to Glasgow the sun was something I took for granted. I knew I liked it, that it was important in my life, but I couldn’t say much about its subtle affects on my body and mood.
Now that I live here, where the sun shines infrequently, I completely understand those ancient people that worshiped it as a deity. More often than not Glasgow mornings are grey, but on the off chance it’s sunny, that doesn’t mean it’ll stay that way all day. Then again, you might think there’s no hope for sunshine on a day bullied by angry rain clouds, but sometimes sunbeams still fight their way through. When it comes to my weather app, the only thing it’s good for is telling me the temperature.
Sunshine gives us a boost even on hard days
After one gloriously sunny Saturday, the sun didn’t appear again for another five days. Five days! I’m sure that’s not the first time that it happened, but it’s the first time I thought to count.
Do you know what it felt like when the sun finally did appear? Fireworks! Inside my body! There were bursts of joy one after another, bright and colourful, complete with my own sound effects as I shouted “yay!” and “the sun is out!” As the hours ticked by and the day still shone bright I felt like I should have a celebration to mark the occasion.
Those sunless days had their own reasons to be challenging, and without the sun things seemed especially gloomy. When it reappeared I realised how much its absence made all my work and worry seem all-consuming. My whole world literally brightened – it wasn’t just the light of the day, there was light in my mind.
Sunshine makes us superheroes
It probably goes without saying that sunny days make you feel happy, but it’s more than that! When the sun is out my to do list seems so much more doable than on days when it’s missing. Hard jobs fit more neatly into the category of life called ‘work’, rather than seeming like a weight around my neck, pulling me down. When the sun’s out, I can separate my feelings about something from the need to get it done. Said another way, I feel more capable. I spend less energy both starting tasks and moving from one task to the next.
Remember when everyone was telling us to stand with our hands akimbo, chins up, like we were superheroes? This was supposed to give us confidence for the important presentation, the conversation with our boss about a raise, or whatever other daunting task lay ahead. I definitely tried it at least once, in a bathroom before an interview. When the sun’s out it’s like I get the benefits from that exercise without feeling silly or wondering how long I need to stand that way before it’s ‘worked’. Sunbeams lend me their strength, making me more self-confident and motivated.
Sunshine keeps us alive, literally
On hard days here, when I’m wondering whether I ought to stay, the fact that there’s so little sunshine factors into my consideration. The whole climate seems hostile to my existence, which sounds dramatic, but is simply true. Because the sun shines so rarely, my melanated skin has a hard time making enough vitamin D on its own and I have to take a supplement. You know what could happen otherwise? Everything from hair loss, fatigue, muscle pain, depression and increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. Basically, without vitamin D your body can fall apart!
Everyone in Glasgow seems to knows how important it is to get vitamin D, and that dark skinned people need to take supplements. Never before has my baseline health routine been the subject of casual conversation. Nearly everyone that I’ve come to know here has asked me about whether I’m taking a supplement. On one occasion, when I said that I skip when I see the sun is out in the morning, my friend looked at me as though I was taking my life in my hands.
How you can make your own sun-joy
Novels always wax eloquent about the moon – its light, its pull, its mystery and romance. Maybe the sun can seem gauche, the way it shines so brightly that it’s almost shouting at us. But I’m so thankful for its enthusiasm! If you were to ask me to make a list of my favourite things at the moment, the sun would be right up there in the top two. At this point I’ve pretty much stopped texting my friends with sun alerts – “The sun is out!! *huge smiley face* *party hat emoji*” – but 10 months on and I still feel that way every time.
So here I am, sharing this joy with you. The burst of gratitude that comes with a sunny day will be hard to engineer if you live in an already sunny place, but there’s probably some way you could improvise it for yourself. Instead of rushing on with your day as usual, stop a moment and think about how the sun feels on your skin. Look at the way its light creates shadows, interacts with surfaces and makes everything in front of you seem crisp, almost hyper visible. Grey days have much softer edges.
I hope taking a moment to appreciate the sun brings as much happiness to your days as it does mine. And if you want to shout about it but think your friends will look at you sideways for doing so, leave me a comment! I’ll do my “sun’s out!” dance right along with you. 🙂