“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” - F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
As the summer sun envelops us in her warm embrace, the Okanagan Valley bursts with pockets of exquisite color and the promise of decadent seasonal fruit. Rattle snakes venture out from cooler locales to sunbathe along toasty hiking trails, songbirds sing their joyful tunes, and the trill of children’s laughter can be heard across local beaches and farmer’s markets. A palpable energy fills the air, and all life, with a renewed sense of possibility and an opportunity to slow down, savor the beauty that is all around, and spread roots of seasonal self-care.
During this time of year, each of us embraces the sun’s rays with varying degrees of trust. For many, summer is the promise of long, lazy days spent soaking up every last energizing ray of sunshine. For others, the sun’s kiss calls for an immediate pursuit of shade and the anticipation of aloe vera. As such, determining how much sun is too much will be different for everyone, and relies on such factors as: age, skin tone, diet and lifestyle choices, physical location, and health history. Defining the ideal amount of sun exposure also relies on a balance between the negative effects of ultraviolet (UV) light and the benefits of Vitamin D.
SEASONAL SELF-CARE: UV RAYS AND VITAMIN D
When the sun’s ultraviolet rays penetrate the skin’s outermost layer (the epidermis), the body will defend against the intruder, causing the skin to darken or tan.
Too much sun exposure allows UV rays to reach inner layers of skin (the dermis), resulting in a sunburn. Sunburn can cause skin cells to die, damage, or even develop cancer.
Melanin, a pigment within the skin’s outer layer, acts as a protector for the skin and creates vitamin D.
Vitamin D absorbs calcium, which helps build and maintain healthy bones, and helps to relieve depression, improve sleep, and fight colds, to name a few.
SEASONAL SELF-CARE: 5 SIGNS YOU’VE HAD TOO MUCH SUN
Sunburn. Redness, hot or painful skin, blisters, peeling, dehydration.
Heat exhaustion. Excessive sweating, rapid pulse, pale or clammy skin, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, muscle cramps, headache.
You stopped sweating. Sweat regulates internal body temperature. If you’re not sweating after spending time in the sun and your skin feels hot and dry, find shade and water as soon as possible.
Skin changes. Newly formed freckles or moles, dark spots, tight or leathery skin.
Damage to eyes. UV rays can damage the tissue in your eyes. Pay attention to blurry vision, swelling, light sensitivity, discomfort or redness.
SEASONAL SELF-CARE: TIPS FOR SUMMER SUN EXPOSURE
Get to know your body and how it reacts to the sun.
Use natural products to avoid alternatives that may make your skin sun sensitive.
Pay particular attention to the delicate area around your eyes.
Consider a trip to the dermatologist to screen for skin cancers.
Make natural sunscreen a regular part of your routine. Unlike chemical based sunscreens, natural alternatives simultaneously moisturize the skin and are packed full of antioxidants.
Rememberto apply often, make sure you’re applying enough, and rub it into your skin well.
If you’re sunburnt, lather on some of Back to Earth’s Aloe Vera After Sun to infuse the burn with moisture, anti-oxidants, and vitamins. Avoid tight-fitting clothes, applying makeup to the sunburn, and re-exposure to the sun until you’ve healed.
Stay hydrated. Bring a water bottle with you when outdoors, and listen to your body.
Maintain a healthy diet, and consider incorporating foods high in Vitamin D, such as salmon, egg yolks, mushrooms, or soy milk.
Wear sunglasses regularly and look for glasses that provide both UVA and UVB protection.
Plan your exposure. Limit sun exposure during the hottest times of the day. Take breaks (go inside, sit under an umbrella) if you’re out in the sun for longer periods of time.
Health professionals suggest that exposing your uncovered face and arms to the sun for 15 minutes, 3 days per week is an effective way for your body to get enough Vitamin D. Apart from this time, cover up with breathable, natural fabrics and a wide-brimmed hat.
Keep in mind that UV rays reflect off certain surfaces, such as water, concrete, and snow, leaving you at a higher risk of sun exposure.
Certain medication can make you more sensitive to the sun. Talk with your doctor about the medications you’re on and ask for their advice on the need to further limit sun exposure.
Microorganisms play a significant role in supporting our health and the health of soil. Explore the link between dirt and us by learning about the importance of gut and garden microbes, as well as how to care for them.
Water is nature’s gift to us all. From the smallest organism to the rarest mammal, water connects us. To truly appreciate this connection, consider your relationship with this vital resource then learn to recognize how it benefits all life on earth.
As pet owners, it is up to us to ensure that our furry family members beat the heat this summer. Help your pet avoid the negative effects of sun exposure, and learn how natural pet care can support your summer activities, with these seasonal tips.