Celebrated since ancient times, the Summer Solstice marks the first day of summer which this year falls on Friday 21 June. The term solstice is made up of the Latin ‘sol’ meaning ‘the sun’, and ‘sistere’, which means ‘to make stand still.’ According to English Heritage, Stonehenge is an ancient prehistoric world heritage site which has been a place of worship and celebration at the time of Summer Solstice for thousands of years. It is only on this day that the rising sun reaches the middle of the stones when shining on the central altar.
The Summer Solstice marks a fresh, vibrant new season. One of growth, promise and hope. After the rains of the past weeks, waking up to a clear blue sky is a joy. Make the most of whatever the summer brings for you by taking advantage of fresh air, green spaces and enjoy a little sunshine.
According to a report by the University of Leeds, there are numerous health benefits of making the most of green spaces as they indirectly impact our health by improving air quality and limiting the impact of heatwaves by reducing urban temperatures. Trees and vegetation soak up rainwater, which also helps to mitigate the risk of flooding and improve water quality in streams, lakes and rivers. People who make an effort to spend time in green spaces frequently report an increased sense of wellbeing.
Urban green space is vital for wildlife too as large parks, and woodland regions can support the broadest range of species. Even small areas of vegetation such as roundabouts, roadside verges and green roofs can support a variety of plants, insects and birds.
The Harvard Medical School suggests going alfresco for better health and wellbeing. Benefits of include:
1. Increased levels of Vitamin D. Vitamin D plays a substantial role in the regulation of calcium and maintenance of phosphorus levels in the blood, two factors that are extremely important for maintaining healthy bones. It is sensible to wear sunscreen and to avoid excess sunning.
2. You’ll get more exercise. Researchers at the University of Essex are advancing the notion that exercising in the presence of nature has added benefit, particularly for mental health. Their investigations into “green exercise,” dovetails with research showing benefits from living in proximity to green, open spaces.
The fact is getting outside means you likely spend less time in front of the television and computer and more time walking, biking, gardening, playing and doing other things that put the body in motion.
3. You’ll be happier. Light tends to elevate people’s mood, and unless you live in a glass house or are using a light box to treat a seasonal affective disorder, there’s usually more light available outside than in. Physical activity has been shown to relax and cheer people up, so if by getting outside and replacing inactive pursuits with active ones, it might also mean more smiles and laughter.
Enjoy the benefits for yourself by taking a break from your working day. Go outside, find a green space no matter how small and turn your face towards the sun. You’ll be amazed at the difference even 10 or so minutes will make to your mental attitude and overall sense of wellbeing.