I was taking our dog for her usual early morning stroll around the village one day last week when something very strange happened; two people who I normally see every morning taking their respective pooches for a walk, looked at me and smiled and said ‘Good Morning’.
It stopped me in my tracks, ‘why’ I hear you ask?, well it was unusual because I have passed these people nearly every morning for the last few months. Initially for a while I tried to make eye contact so that I could say good morning, but I gave up in the end, I told myself that maybe they weren’t morning people or were busy thinking about the day ahead or perhaps just shy, the reasons could be numerous.
But why the sudden change this morning? I couldn’t think that I was acting any different to attract this change in their behaviour, neither had I changed my deodorant (!), but it niggled me that I couldn’t pinpoint the reason for this change, clearly something had happened, which I was to perhaps uncover the reason for this later on in the day…
My day then continued as normal, seeing my clients booked in for their regular sessions, but one particular client who I have been treating for depression and anxiety for a number of weeks, walked into the therapy room and said she felt so much better today – and I could see it by the way she was smiling and the way she walked into the room, she had no idea why she felt better, but the change was significant.
‘Can you describe how you feel different?’ I asked, (as a typical counsellor would do!).
She used words, such as feeling lighter, having more energy and feeling less anxious. We continued to explore these feelings, trying to pinpoint what had changed, and as we sat there the sun (which had made it’s first appearance in several days) moved and shone brightly through the blinds and into my client’s eyes. I then got up to close the blinds and she said ‘what a shame that we have to shut it out, I love the sun, it makes me feel so much better.’
So was this it? Was this simple change in weather what had resulted in the positive change in her mood? I posed this question to my client. She seemed surprised that something as simple as sunshine can have such a positive effect, but when we talked it through, we discovered that actually she does tend to feel better when it’s sunny. We agreed that she should monitor and note any change to her mood to see if she could identify a link to when the sun comes out. One thing we could be certain of is that the sunny days in this country never last forever!
Later on I pondered the question as to whether the sun has such a positive effect on the way I feel. I definitely do feel more alive and focused and then it dawned on me, the two people who smiled at me this morning, was there a possibility they were smiling simply because the sun was shining and it make them feel better, yes it could.
It may seem obvious that the sun will make us feel better, that the fact we can go outside without having to worry about umbrellas and getting wet etc, and it’s well known that the sun produces the much talked about vitamin D that we all seem to be lacking these days, however it amazes me that something so simple as the sun can have such a positive impact on our mood. I think lots of us are missing a trick, maybe just a 5 minute stroll outside when it’s sunny could make us feel so much better.
So as I sit here writing this blog and looking out the window at the pouring rain, I’ve made a promise to myself, that when the sun eventually decides to appear, I’m off to make the most of it, even if it’s just for 5 minutes, you should try it too!