Cold drinks, warm weather, the beach, being stress-free; the list goes on and on as to why summer is the perfect time. But other than that, it has been scientifically proven that summer and warm weather in general ACTUALLY makes you happier!
- You can eat more fresh foods
While you can certainly get fresh foods year round, summer in particular seems to be teeming with fruit and veggie options. There are lots of reasons to focus on a whole foods, plants-based diet. There are positive effects on our bodies and brains, and on our thinking and feeling. These effects include physical effects like good digestion and clear skin as well as harder-to-measure effects like mental clarity, alertness and energy. Even though here’s been a lot of speculation that a vegetarian diet can have effects on cognitive functioning and we obviously need more research to prove that. In the meantime, eat as healthy as possible!
- You’re getting more sleep
Okay, so this one may not apply if you’re waking up super early for an internship or a job. However, in general, college and school students will get more sleep in the summer than they do in the school year. This has huge effects on your mood and happiness level and there’s tons of evidence coming out about the negative impact of not getting enough sleep or sleeping off and on at different times. Lack of sleep can lead to irritability and even depression. Without a doubt, sleep keeps you happy and sane. But there’s a caveat and that is that healthy sleep should be consistent, so you should aim to fall asleep and wake up around the same time each day for you to feel fully rested. Also, oversleeping can make you lethargic and groggy. Eight hours per night is a good bet !
- You can get in more outdoor exercise
Working out in the winter can be a drag, especially when it requires leaving your cozy bedroom for the windy and chilly nights. Sure, jogging on a treadmill for an hour in your crowded gym does the job, but it’s not nearly as fun (or scenic!) as running outside; even down your street! Outdoor exercise, whether you’re swimming in a pool, kicking a ball around a field with friends, or going on walks, can make you happy purely because these things can be more fun outdoors.
- The weather is nice and sunny
There’s research being done on the connection between sunlight and mood. For example, in cases where people are very depressed that strategic light exposure can have a direct therapeutic effect, especially those with seasonal affective disorder [a disorder where you become depressed in colder, darker months. People who are more down in the wintertime have more energy and their mood is up in the summer. Basically, the brightness of summer can naturally enhance your mood and make you feel happier.
Want to really capitalize on this? If you’re feeling down, go outside if it’s sunny. Scientists aren’t exactly sure why, but people definitely are in tune to sunlight, and it can have an impact on your health. But be careful about sun exposure and sunscreen, Neubauer advises. You don’t need to burn or tan to get the positive benefits of the sun! Make sure you’re consistently applying sunscreen if you plan on being outside.
So if you feel a little more cheerful than normal in the summer, thank the season and enjoy the happiness of these months. School will be back before you know it!