Sunshine: the happiness vitamin

Isabella Antoon

Summer is a heavily anticipated time of the year for most, not only being a break from school, but also a time for warmer weather and sunshine. Many would argue that they are happier during the summer months, but is this happiness directly due to the increase in sunlight we are exposed to?

The notion that the weather can affect your mood is one discussed by many, but delves deeper into the idea that demographics play a significant role in how happy you are. Recent studies suggest that not only the weather you experience but the area you live in can positively or negatively impact the amount of happiness you hold.

The correlation between sunlight and happiness occurs due to the body’s natural reaction to the sun. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, being out in the sun promotes healthier attitudes towards diet and exercise and provides us with the necessary Vitamin D that we need, promoting healthy cell and bone growth, and an increase in our immune system.

Richard Ryan, a psychology professor at the University of Rochester, said that the weather has a strong effect on emotional and physical health.

“Research has shown that people with a greater sense of vitality don’t just have more energy for things they want to do, they are also more resilient to physical illnesses,” Ryan said. ”One of the pathways to health may be to spend more time in natural settings.”

Forbes Magazine reported that each year, the United Nations publishes a list of the world’s happiest countries, determined by six factors including life expectancy, social support and freedom. Finland ranked at the top of the list with a low-crime and high environmental standards for its 5.5 million residents.

With its steady climate and scenic landscape, the people of Finland have reason to remain positive.  But the country also has a high suicide rate that continues to steadily rise, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, an intergovernmental economic organization base centered in France.

Roughly 787 people committed suicide in Finland in 2016, making it the the second most common accidental or violent cause of death in the country. This discovery could be reason enough for many to believe that your environment, no matter how pleasant, ultimately does not affect how happy you are.

Still, the weather plays a significant role in a person’s happiness, according to the American Meteorological Society. Upon examining 84 German subjects, psychologists found that subjects reported higher levels of momentary happiness on sunny days, while on rainy days their moods were lower.

Junior Bella Reilly of Avon said the weather has a strong impact on how she feels throughout the year.

“The weather definitely impacts how happy I am,” Reilly said. “The warm weather always reminds me of summer and all the fun things that go with it, and easily puts in me a better mood.”