Shiralkar: Enquire of the sun

Columnist Parth Shiralkar encourages a daily dose of sun to combat seasonal sadness. 

Parth Shiralkar

On Saturday, after a long month of errands and assignments, I received a most pleasant birthday present: warm sunlight and a gentle breeze that told me everything was OK. It sounds needlessly poetic, but the sun is notorious for being wary of Ames, Iowa; in a town otherwise no stranger to the harsher elements, sunshine in February is a delectable treat. I soon realized this was the kind of weather one can look forward to in the coming weeks and then proceeded to have a really nice day.

For its links to skin illnesses and premature aging, sunlight is actually pretty good for you in healthy doses. Despite what the dairy industry would have you believe, vitamin D from the rays of the sun is richer and more effective than that from cow’s milk. Sunlight — light in general — is more than just a good/bad plot subtext in media. John Ott was the lighting adviser for the Disney film “Fantasia.” He would go on to revolutionize light therapy in the West, leading to the coinage of wonderful terms like SAD — Seasonal Affective Disorder.

SAD was first examined by Dr. Norman Rosenthal of Georgetown University. The feelings of sadness and loss of hope were seen consistent with people without access to prolonged, adequate sunlight. This semester, even as spring looms around the corner, the lack of real socializing among those who have chosen empathy over dollar mugs is harrowing. In fact, I was a bit stunned when not one but two prominent Daily pieces last week ended up having rather lonely ledes.

This sunny and pleasant weather won’t magically cure a lot of the problems we’re all facing, but it will offer hope and the logistics for a fruitful picnic. And it can be a self-care date by yourself, maybe with a hammock thrown in the mix. Without the wind constantly buffeting poor freshmen and poorer grad students all over campus, it’s nice to see creatures of all shapes and sizes break out the spring disposition and enjoy themselves safely. Bathed in the warm midday glow, I made friends with a somewhat polite opossum near Beardshear Hall.

Heralded widely as the father of medicine, Hippocrates, a Greek physician, was a firm advocate of the tangible powers of seasons. He believed in the existence of a direct link between a person’s health and how much daylight is available around that time of the year. That seems to be the most plausible case. Soon, the days will be longer, and that’ll help calibrate sleep schedules back into something normal, and the added benefit of being able to soak in the soft warmth on the way to and from class is more than welcome.

If it is possible to step out in a safe manner and take a stroll around town, readers are encouraged to do so. Seasonal depression is always a real bummer — moderate exposure to the sunbeams should help in combating it. What with all the light and summery clothes being dusted off for use over the next few months, these lovely pink sunsets are unquestionably an indication of the nice climes to come. Wash your hands and wear a mask.