Spikeball players compete during the Summer Iowa Games July 22 at the Cyclone Sports Complex. The Games lasted all weekend and hosted many different sports all over Ames.

For those of us who are going to be busy this summer and for those of us who are not, it's important to go outside and spend time in the sun.

As Iowans, we have survived an awful winter and as students we endured two semesters with finals and many other bumps in the road. For some of us, jobs, internships or summer classes are going to occupy our time this summer. No matter what is taking up your time this season, remember to take some time to soak up some rays.

There are many different benefits to taking time for yourself and relaxing in the sunshine. Whether it's rafting down a river, sunbathing by a pool or simply taking a walk or bike ride around town, activities in fresh air work miracles for people.

Some people are affected by the seasons, especially winter. Students who spend so much time indoors can experience mood changes; and after a semester of hibernation due to bad weather and stressful schoolwork, we all could use some sunshine.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “In most cases, seasonal affective disorder symptoms appear during late fall or early winter and go away during the sunnier days of spring and summer. Less commonly, people with the opposite pattern have symptoms that begin in spring or summer. In either case, symptoms may start out mild and become more severe as the season progresses.”

Since summer has finally arrived, now is the time to soak up all the sun we can before the next semester starts. 

The Daily Texan states that “nature has not only proven to be a stress reliever, but also it has proven to make the brain function in a better and healthier way...Furthermore, exercise is proven to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Exposure to sunshine increases levels of vitamin D, which improves muscle function, the immune system, and mood.”

Data suggests being outside, in general, is good for people and beneficial to their health.

“Time spent in nature can help kids and adults alike by lowering blood pressure and supporting cognitive function," according to the National Wildlife Federation. "Kids who like to get dirty also benefit from contact with bacteria in soil, which can help increase serotonin levels. Research has also shown that kids who play outdoors get more physical activity, which increases their endorphin levels. Serotonin and endorphins help regulate mood and social behavior, appetite and digestion, sleep, and memory."

Humans crave the outdoors. With low vitamin D levels and lack of exercise, we become sluggish, slow-minded and tired more often than we should.

This summer, I think all of us should do our best to take time for ourselves and realign our mental states in preparation for the upcoming semester. Spending time with friends, family and mother nature can help reduce stress and bring us back to feeling ourselves again. After all, we must take care of ourselves before we can fully focus on everything else in our lives.

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