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Use Your Extra Hour of Daylight to Boost Your Wellbeing

Winter has felt very long this year, but spring is finally here! The friendly yellow daffodils are out in full force, the beautiful pure white snowdrops are peeking through the bare soil, and before you know it, the trees will be full of lush green once more. Hand in hand with spring comes that age-old custom of the clocks changing – on the 28th of March we’ll be moving the clocks forward an hour.

Rather than seeing daylight savings time as an hour less sleep, let’s look at it as gaining an hour of daylight in the evening. A chance to embrace and enjoy the natural mood boosting sunshine for even longer each day.

Why do we have daylight saving time?

So, where did this custom come from? There are various reasons for this practice coming into being all over the world, with people being most aware of the American beginnings – to help farmers with crop harvesting. In the UK, however, the idea was first driven into the limelight by a builder from Kent called William Willett.

According to History UK, “The story goes that one day on his way back from riding his horse in Petts Wood near his home in the early 1900s, he noticed many of the blinds and curtains in the neighbouring houses were still drawn, even though it was light. This led him to consider the idea of adapting the time to better fit daylight hours.”

Whilst he wasn’t the first person to come up with the idea in the UK, he was perhaps the most driven. He used his own resources to create and distribute a pamphlet about the benefits of adapting the clocks to daylight hours during the summer. It wasn’t successful at first, but during World War One the idea resurfaced as a way to conserve coal, and the act was finally passed through parliament on 17th May 1916, with clocks going forward one hour on the following Sunday, 21st May. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Boosting your wellbeing

This year, rather than mourning the loss of your hour’s sleep, take the opportunity to find ways of enjoying your extra hour instead. Whilst sleep is important for looking after your wellbeing, it isn’t the only thing needed for a happy, healthy life. Here are just some of the ways that an additional hour of evening daylight could bring you an extra wellbeing boost:

Enjoy the sunshine

Have you noticed that when children draw pictures of sunshine, they’ll often put smiley faces on them? Sunshine evokes a feeling of happiness in many people – and it’s not just the happy yellow colour, the rays from sunshine are literally good for us.

When your skin is exposed to the sunshine, it helps to naturally increase your vitamin D levels – a vitamin that’s known to boost your immune system and aid in bone health. Find ways of using that extra hour of evening sunshine to look after your health – go for a walk, do a little work in your garden, or simply sit outdoors and let the rays wash over you in your favourite garden chair.

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Meditate

Simple, easy to follow, mindfulness techniques have been shown to greatly boost wellbeing levels. Indeed, mentalhealth.org states that “mindfulness is an integrative, mind-body based approach that helps people to manage their thoughts and feelings and mental health. Practising mindfulness can give more insight into emotions, boost attention and concentration, and improve relationships.”

Why not use the extra hour of daylight in the evening to refine your mindfulness techniques. You can find a handy guide to getting started in our article, A beginner’s guide to mindfulness.

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Read a book

Who doesn’t love snuggling up with a blanket on the sofa and reading a good book? Yes, of course, this could be done with artificial light, but it feels so much nicer when you’re bathed in sunlight from your window instead. Use your extra hour of evening sunshine to relax for that much longer in the imaginary world of Austen, Dickens or Brontë. Reading is shown to lower stress, improve sleep, slow cognitive decline, enhance social skills and boost intelligence. Where better to do this than basking in sunshine?

To find out more about the benefits of reading, you can read our article, “How can reading improve your health and wellbeing?”

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The clocks going forward on Sunday might seem like just another opportunity to lose your patience with trying to figure out how to change the oven clock, but when you look at it from the perspective of gaining an extra hour of evening sunlight, you can see what a gift it can truly be.

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