Mental health professional recommends using increased daylight hours to relieve stress, anxiety

Local News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Daylight saving time will begin in just over a week, meaning days will be longer and the weather will start heating up. Clinical program manager with Kettering Behavioral Medicine Center, Julie Manuel, said after spending months indoors, now is the time to get your mental health back in check.

“Now that sunlight is happening and we’re having longer daylight hours, it’s gonna be really important for folks to get back outside. Walk your dog, spend time outside with friends, family [while] social distancing.”

Prolonged periods indoors and without sunlight due to the pandemic and winter weather, she said, can create an environment for depression and anxiety to creep in. Luckily, nature provides a free remedy that may offer some help.

“A couple times a week, just getting outside and having that sun on our skin and just kind of…getting the sunrays on our face and our arms [and] definitely soaking up that sun increases our serotonin and our vitamin D…to make us feel better overall,” she said.

Also contributing factors to overall health are social interactions, which can be better maintained outdoors due to the pandemic, and physical health, which outdoor recreation coordinator with Five Rivers MetroParks, Angie Sheldon, said can be prioritized in a number of designated areas across the Miami Valley. 

“I think the best way to start getting outside is just walking or hiking,” she said.” And in Five Rivers MetroParks, we have over 75 miles of natural surface trails to get out and hike on. And we’re connected to the nation’s largest paved trail network which is 340 miles — so great for walking [or] for anybody pushing a stroller or wanting to get their bike out for the season.”

Manuel said seeing health benefits from the sun only takes 15 minutes or more outdoors a few times a week. To learn more about how daylight saving time affects the body click here, and to learn more about Five Rivers MetroParks, click here.

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