It was day five of my first surgical rotation in clerkship. A Friday in November – another day on the wards and in the OR. Waking up at 5am and getting home after 5pm; arriving to and leaving from the hospitalin darkness. I adjusted to my new schedule well. I was going to bed early, meal prepping and coming to the hospital each morning with a positive attitude. I had a gym membership and was going regularly. It seemed as though my self-care was optimal. I thought that I had finally figured it out – the way to prepare myself physically and mentally for the responsibilities of clerkship.
This Friday, however, I had a slight change in my schedule. I was invited by a couple friends to eat my meal-prepped lunch in the hospital cafeteria. As soon as I walked into the cafeteria, my mood improved significantly. At first I wondered, why was this the case? Things were going well and I felt great. What drastic of a change could have improved my mood to such a degree? Then I realized, it was the first time that I’d seen the sun all week!
It’s that time of year where the days are getting shorter, and sunlight is scarce. Making time to see the sun significantly improved my mood and made me feel energized for my last day of the week.
It is well known that sunlight is important for vitamin D production, ultimately lowering your risk for breast and prostate cancer as well as promoting bone strength. More recently, preliminary research has linked sunlight exposure to improved mood and a reduction in depressive symptoms.
Therefore – I challenge all those reading this post to make sure they make time to take a look outside at least twice a week; either through a window or by exiting the hospital or clinic for a few minutes on a break. It is a small change that can give you the extra boost you need to get through a long day or week!