Summer for many of us is the best time of the year, it certainly is mine! Everything just feels so much better and that doesn't come as a surprise because the warmest season of the year is something that many of us look forward to for months.
Gone are the days when you had to wrap yourself up in multiple layers to keep warm and it’s already dark outside before you left work. For me, summer is all about positivity and making the most of my days. I always find myself feeling much more motivated to exercise and spend time outdoors on walks. Overall, my mental health is at its best in summer.
The rise in temperature and increased amount of time that the sun is shining in the sky can cause several changes to your mind, body, and skin. In this blog, I will be explaining some of the differences that we experience because of the summer months.
How Summer Affects Your Mind
You may have noticed that when it is sunny outside, you are more inclined to spend your time being productive. Completing jobs that you would normally put off like cleaning the house for example. I know from my personal experience that when the sun is shining, the last thing that I want to do is spend my time being lazy and binge watching a series on Netflix. Instead, I try to make the most out of my day. Even cleaning my bedroom on a nice day seems like less of a chore than if it was rainy and miserable outside.
A reason for this may be that when we are exposed to the sun, our brain releases more serotonin. The natural increase in serotonin levels gives us a positivity boost, helping to regulate anxiety levels and encourage calm and focused feelings.
One of the biggest changes for me throughout the summer is that overall, I feel happier physically and mentally. When its winter and you spend the duration of the daylight hours at work, it’s very easy to become caught up in the everyday cycle of going to work when its dark and coming home in the dark and not wanting to do much else. For many people this may have a negative impact on their mental health.
Seasonal affective disorder or SAD for short is a form of depression which is brought on by the change of seasons. Most commonly affecting people throughout the winter months, Seasonal affective disorder is thought to affect up to three in 100 people at some point in their life. Women are four times more likely to feel the effects of SAD.
Energy Levels -
In the summer months we spend much of our day out and about, rather than being stuck inside. Especially after having to be in lockdown during covid! For me, going out on walks and visiting new (and old) places is something I try to do when I am away from work. I have noticed that I have so much more energy when its sunny. When winter comes around, I am always partial to an afternoon nap in my days off. I even find myself waking up at 9am and feeling tired again by lunch time!
When it is dark outside, the melatonin levels within our body increase. As a result, this causes the body to feel sleepy and less energised, making it a contributing factor to being less motivated to do anything when its winter time.
The sun tends to encourage people to spend more time outside doing leisurely activities such as walking or playing outdoor sports like tennis. The motivation we feel to get out and exercise, will benefit our mind by boosting the levels of endorphins. This is the chemical in the bran which contributes towards creating a general feeling of well-being and decrease in stress levels.
How Summer Affects Your Body
Your mind and body go hand in hand when it comes down to how you are feeling. I certainly experience a positive link when it is summer. I feel so much better about my appearance and my body feels healthier in summer, and I think this comes down to several factors.
Wearing My Favourite Clothes -
As the seasons change, so does my wardrobe. When it’s cold, my go to outfit is a baggy t shirt, baggy hoodie, and a pair of leggings. This is purely for the comfort and the warmth. However, as the temperature rises, my hoodies are put away and I can start to wear my “cooler” clothes. Some of my favourite outfits include shorts and sandals (something that only can be worn when its warm outside). During the sunny months, I become much more body confidant as I get to enjoy what I am wearing.
Physical Changes Due to Exercise -
The motivation we feel in summer encourages us to spend more time outdoors or at the gym taking part in exercise. You may realise that you are more inclined to take up exercise after work when it is still light and sunny outside. As a result, you may experience some positive physical changes during this time if you are exercising on a regular basis.
I am really pushed to keep going to the gym and on walks in summer as I enjoy spending time outdoors and out of the house during this time of the year. Overall, it’s a positive and continuous cycle. The sun makes me more motivated therefore it encourages me to exercise. I then see changes within my body that I like, because of that it keeps pushing me to go back to the gym all the time.
Increased Vitamin D -
As the sun provides the body with vitamin D, spending time soaking up the sun can have beneficial effects on the body. Vitamin D is a vital nutrient which keeps our immune system functioning properly and without enough time in the sun, our bodies can quite easily become vitamin D deficient. Lack of the nutrient may see the bones in our bodies become less dense meaning they are more prone to breaks and fractures. In children this can lead to diseases such as rickets.
As little as 20 – 30 minutes of sun can promote a healthy immune system which will protect your body from things like cold and flu.
Heat Stroke / Heat Exhaustion -
Being in a hot environment does come with its disadvantages for the body. Spending too much time basking in the sun or taking part in vigorous physical activity throughout summer can cause your body to overheat. Symptoms of this include dizziness, high temperature, nausea and more. Therefore, if you are spending long periods of time outside, it’s important to drink plenty of cool drinks and shade yourself from the sun to avoid heat exhaustion.
When our bodies get too hot, signals are sent to our sweat glands to produce more sweat to cool us down. If we are exposed to the summer heat for long periods of time, this can result in dehydration due to loosing lots of bodily fluids through sweating.
Dehydration can be avoided by drinking plenty of fluids, avoiding strenuous exercise in hot climates and keeping salt levels in your diet low.
How Summer Effects Your Skin
Perhaps the most notable change during the summer are the ones that happen to our skin. For many people this can have a positive impact on them however, too much exposure to the sun can have detrimental effects on our health.
Skin Becomes Oilier -
As the temperature starts to rise, so does the humidity in the air. To protect your skin from potential damage caused by the environment, the sebaceous glands found within the skin start to produce excess sebum. Unfortunately for our skin, this will leave it prone to breakouts. This is one of my least favourite things about summer as I find that I am never short of a few spots when its sunny and warm.
In these months I find it important to have a thorough skincare routine to keep my skin as healthy as possible. With there being more oil produced on my face, a deep cleanse can help to get rid of any dirt and grime build up that is clogged in my pores. I make sure that I avoid using too much product and instead opt for a toner and light moisturiser to keep my face looking and feeling clean.
To find out more about what is basic skincare routines click here.
Skin Appears More Tanned -
An obvious change to the skin between June and September is how it tans. You can quite easily point out someone who has been soaking up the sun for hours from their more tanned looking complexion. For many people all over the world, achieving a nice, bronzed look is the goal when sunbathing.
Interestingly, being tanned was not a popular thing before the 1900’s. In fact, during the reign of Elizabeth the first, having pale skin was much more admired. Back then, it was a distinguishable factor of wealth and status.
Fast forward to nowadays, many people fly away to hot countries in the attempt of getting a tan.
When we are exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays as it causes the body to produce more melanin which darkens the outer layer of the skin.
Freckles Become More Prominent -
Due to the increased levels of melanin caused by the sun, freckles start to pop up on the skin and become a more prominent part of the face. This is the biggest change that I personally experience in the summer. My face and body end up covered in freckles, each year it seems that I get more and more! For me, this is one of my favourite features and it is something that I look forward to getting each year.
Sun Burn -
All exposure to the sun comes with risk. Therefore, it is important that you use sun cream to protect your skin from sun damage.
If we spend too much time outside in the sun without appropriate protection, the UV rays can cause mutations to our skin cells. When we wear sun cream, we are adding a barrier to the skin to minimise the damage. However, if you do not apply enough sun cream whilst being exposed to the sun, our body can quickly become negatively affected.
Being in the sun for periods of time without protection will cause the skin cells DNA to mutate and potentially become unable to repair damaged the damaged cells. This will result in your skin becoming swollen, sore, and irritated. In some cases, mutating so much that it becomes cancerous.
Summer is a great time for enjoying the outdoors and making memories with friends and family. However, it is important to take great care of your mind, body, and skin whilst doing so. Here are a couple of ways you can do that -
- Apply factor 30+ sun cream generously and use one that is water resistant, so it does not wipe off if you are in water
- Cover up with hats and t-shirts
- Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes
- Drink around two and a half litres of water to stay hydrated
- Stay in shaded areas where possible
To find more about how to take care of your skin throughout the year, check out some of our recent blog How To Take Care of Your Skin in Summer.