It’s not too hard to figure out why so many people feel better and more energetic in the summer than they do in the winter. Take a look at the amount of sunlight hours received across the United States on the summer solstice, which is commonly referred to as “the longest day of the year” because it’s the day with most sunlight. Residents of a stretch from Northern Washington to Northern Minnesota can bask in more than 16 hours of sun, while parts of Texas and South Florida “only” get about 14 hours, which is still pretty good. But all the sunlight in the world doesn’t do much good if you don’t go outside and really experience it sometimes. Sitting by the window and working is nice, but it’s not quite the same.

Health benefits of sun

We hear plenty about the harmful effects of going outside and tanning. Sunburns can and do cause skin cancer, but sun also gives us something else that we desperately need: Vitamin D. An estimated 1 billion people in the world suffer from a Vitamin D deficiency that could put them at risk of developing certain diseases. If your friend from Seattle mentions having to go fill a Vitamin D prescription, that’s probably why. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a very real condition that affects roughly five percent of Americans. Symptoms include changes in appetite, weight gain, irritability, anxiety, and difficulty concentrating. It’s usually at its worst in winter before improving in the springtime. It’s more common in northern climates than southern ones. That’s not to say that people from Texas can’t get SAD, but it’s not as likely an affliction as it is among residents of Portland or Anchorage.

Moving is one way to combat seasonal depression, although it’s a pretty extreme reaction. Another way to fight it is to really make the most of the days when there is plentiful sunshine. Go to the park and take a long walk. If you have a gym membership, see if it can be put on hold in the summer while you go outside and get your heart rate going. Make sure to apply plenty of sun protectant first, and re-apply it as necessary.

A different kind of travel

Most of us travel in cars, and it’s true that motorcycles aren’t for everyone. But if you love them, they’re a great investment, and there’s something about feeling the wind on your face and the sun beating down on your (ideally helmeted) head that can’t be beat. Go to a dealer like M & S Harley-Davidson and start spending summer the way bikers do: on the road, exploring the area’s mountains, rivers, and valleys.
Even though it’s sunny in the summertime, there’s nothing that says you can’t travel to an even sunnier place. Experience the height of tropical luxury on the Hawaiian islands. The memory of those surfing lessons in Waikiki will keep you warm once the time changes again and the sun starts setting before you even leave work. Living your best life in the summer will help ease the transition to colder weather. It can’t hurt to leave a little money in your travel budget for winter, too. That way, if you absolutely need a weekend escape to Arizona or Florida, you can hop on a plane and take a break from the dark, snowy gloom.

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