You may not know it, but the sun is a natural energy booster which also carries the power to keep you away from feeling depressed.

Our mood is influenced by the balance of two amazing chemicals that are directly affected by sunlight and darkness. These are serotonin, the “happy” hormone that the pituitary gland produces as it reacts to sunlight, and melatonin or the sleep hormone, is the chemical that the pineal glands secrete as darkness falls to give us a healthy sleep.

Serotonin levels naturally rise when you are exposed to sunlight.  It also increases with laughter which triggers the secretion of endorphins, the hormones that give your body the feeling of “natural high”.  Both serotonin and endorphins help to strengthen your body’s immune system.

People who are deprived of the health benefits of the sun are more likely to develop Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression which is caused by not getting enough sunlight for long periods of time.

According to researchers, SAD and some forms of depression can be treated with bright light therapy.  It is because bright light, particularly sunlight which stimulates the production of vitamin D, improves your mood by working on your body’s melatonin-serotonin system.

In order to increase your serotonin level and avoid feeling depressed, you should get enough sunlight.  It’s free.  Here are some suggestions:

– Make it a habit to wake up early and go out to enjoy the morning sun.  It is the perfect time because it does not expose you to the risk of getting sunburns.

– For your added enjoyment, you can do your morning exercise outdoors.  Brisk walking and jogging are good outdoor exercises that allow you to enjoy scenes aside from getting the benefits of sunlight.

– While exercising, take time to face the rising sun for a few minutes to meditate.  Imagine that you are taking sunlight with each breath that you take and let your body absorb the light.

Aside from sunlight, other suggested ways of boosting serotonin levels [and avoiding depression] include:

– eating foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids
– Drinking plenty of fresh water
– Laughing, thinking positive thoughts and being optimistic and
– obtaining plenty of relaxed sleep.