The last few days have been hot hot hot, here in Southwestern Ontario! Each year we seem to skip the spring season, jumping directly from winter to summer (makes spring gardening a little challenging). True to form, on April 23rd I was driving to my Mississauga office through snow and two weeks later the same drive was through 29C temperatures. But feelin’ hot hot hot is a good thing. It’s good for the body, it’s good for the soul and very good for relationships! Sweet…..I love the warm weather!
When the mercury rises, we tend to get outside more allowing our body to absorb more natural light. Natural light affects our circadian rhythm (the physical, mental and behaviour changes that occur in a 24hour cycle) which creates all sorts of positive outcomes like a stronger immune system, better regulated hunger which combats obesity, and lower blood pressure. Interestingly, when our body has more light, the bacteria in saliva that causes bad breath also weakens. With natural light, we become more alert and attentive which promotes performance during any type of activity. Even our skin is more attractive with the appropriate exposure to natural light and our muscles relax.
Our soul also loves summer. The warm weather has a huge impact on our hormones. With the longer days, serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin (the happy chemicals) increase in the brain. Serotonin helps us to feel motivated, aroused, alive and outgoing. It causes us to move beyond ourselves and reach out to others. Dopamine increases testosterone and pheromones, creates the desire to pursue our goals and gives us a rush or pleasure in doing so. That sense of pleasure reinforces the desire to continue the behaviour causing us to repeat it. In other words, it’s addictive. (Side Note: ↑ dopamine = ↑ desire = ↑ dopamine = ↑ desire = ↑ ….just sayin’) Oxytocin builds trust and is essential in promoting social interactions and strong relational bonds. Oxytocin is also the neurochemical behind fearlessness and passion.
With all the physical, emotional and social stimulation the warmth of summer brings, it’s not hard to see that relationships have the potential to improve in every way. Afterall….all the right buttons are being pushed! (I certainly have noticed over the last 12 years in private practice, my relationship-related-counselling load decreases over the summer. I’m not complaining because fewer clients in the summer = ↑ sunshine time = ↑ neurochemicals = ↑ my right buttons being pushed 🙂
This summer, I hope you take the time to cuddle up in a sunny little corner of your patio with a good book or a few friends, take many strolls on the beach (always using sun screen), play tennis, ride a bike and let the benefits of the natural light and warmth be expressed to those you love.
1. Huffington Post – Healthy Living
5. Photo http://www.fatmazaida.com