Ronit Mor, ND
Now that you feel more comfortable about re-introducing the sun back into your life, here are a few rules of thumb to help you stay safe while illuminating yourself...
Practice sun bathing
As skin type, previous sun exposure, time of day and geographical location are determining factors for how much exposure is healthy, it is recommended that you download and use the DMinder App which may support you in this process.
Start by taking walks, gardening or sitting outside while allowing sunlight to shine upon the areas of your body that are covered with hair, such as the arms and legs. Once ready for sunbathing, expose skin in stages: first arms and legs, then add the top of the head, then add abdomen, chest and back. The face is probably best covered during sunbathing. Make sure your face is protected and not exposed. Visors are great because they allow the sun to hit the top of the head.
Start by exposing your skin three to four times a week, five minutes a day while gradually building up melanin content in each area (confirmed by a light brown skin color). Gradually increase sun exposure duration and frequency. This slow build-up should allow half to one hour in morning or late afternoon sun without burning. Exposure should not result in a pink skin color. This is considered a sunburn.
Remember: the sun’s UV-A and UV-B waves will penetrate cloud cover at about 50 percent. This means we can still produce vitamin D, and still sunburn on a cloudy day.
Minimize use of sunscreen
As discussed earlier, it is not proven that sunscreens offer protection. On the contrary, they may pose more risk than benefit.
Eat your sunscreen instead!
A diet rich in carotenoids provide natural sun protection. Fruits and vegetables, especially leafy dark greens and those that are yellow-orange like apricots, carrots and yams, as well as eggs, spirulina, algae, salmon and trout are all potent sources of carotenoids.
Minimize use of sunglasses
Sunglasses block important light rays from reaching your eyes. They also polarize or diffract light. They mute color as well. Sunglasses can create a depressive state because they limit exposure of light to our pineal gland, changing our output of important energy and mood hormones and neurotransmitters (such as GABA, dopamine and serotonin). If we must wear sunglasses during driving or boating to prevent glare, they should be taken off periodically. Also, consider non-glare sunglasses that polarize with minimal darkening.
Practice eye sunning
Based on the Bates Method, sunning consists of closing your eyes, facing the sun and pivoting your head left to right for several minutes. The light from the sun stimulates your retina while the warmth from the sun relaxes all your muscles, tendons and nerves. Sunlight increases circulation to your eyes and face and the sunning helps retrain the involuntary muscles that open and close your pupils properly.
Consider installing full-spectrum indoor lights
By now you should be aware of the wide range of effects spending most of your time indoors has on your mental and physical health. The lighting you use in your home and workplace triggers headaches, stress, fatigue and strained watery eyes, not to mention inferior work production. It also affects your sleep patterns and your mood.
Consider to selectively switch lighting at your home (and if possible at your workplace) to full-spectrum. Full spectrum light bulbs cover the electromagnetic spectrum from infrared to near ultraviolet, or all wavelengths that are useful to plant or animal light.
Consider incorporating light therapy into your healthy routine
Light therapy has been used for many years to help people with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and with numerous sleep difficulties, such as circadian rhythm sleep disorders. More recently, light therapy has been used on patients suffering from arthritis, chronic fatigue, stress, and several types of chronic pain disorders. Full spectrum light therapy is usually provided through a light box that emits light on all wavelengths, producing light that is similar to natural sunlight. Consider having a light therapy session on a regular basis if you have difficulties exposing yourself to natural sunlight or you are suffering from any of the above mentioned conditions.