I typed “staring into the sun” into Google last week just to see what we were working with… because if you know me – you know that absorbing as much sun into my body (my face especially) is my favorite thing to do. But if you know me you also know that I always try and do the best thing healthwise and I figured that, at 30 something, it might be best for me to continue this practice in a healthy-ish way.
I went home to Texas for Easter week and I used my time in that constant 80 to 90 degree weather to jumpstart my favorite season, Summer, by only wearing shorts, flip flops, t-shirts, and being outside as much as possible. I spent one whole afternoon sitting in a lawn chair in front of my family’s house with my eyes closed and my head back literally trying to morph into a human solar panel. Then, when I got back to Chicago, the Lord blessed me with an 80 degree day and I went to the park down the street from my house and did the same thing – sat in the grass surrounded by picnics and volleyball games and vibed solar-ly.
So, I think my question to Google is warranted and one that I need to know the answer too especially if I want to pretend what I’m doing has any health benefits. Here are my six key takeaways:
1.) There are a ton of songs with that exact phrase as its name. HERE is one by Post Malone and SZA. Do with that as you will. It is very vibey though. A good listen. Maybe check out the others too? Ooohh maybe I will make a playlist of all the songs of the same name and then we can compare or even curate some good Summer vibes!
2.) Irvin D. Yalom wrote a book with that phrase as a title. In it he explores how human beings contend with our mortality as we move through life. Apparently it is encouraging? I will let you be the judge of that. The full title is Staring at the Sun: Overcoming the Terror of Death. You can purchase it HERE. Death does not terrorize me so be blessed as you all read that. Let me know what you think.
3.) I am not sure if what I do would be considered sunbathing or sungazing. I looked at the definition of both for comparison and think I might be a cross between the two? I wouldn’t claim one over the other because I am never looking directly into the sun and my time spent in the sun is never limited to 15 or 30 min intervals. Maybe it should be? I also sometimes eat during it and this article says no to that? In the end I think I lean more to sunbathing or practicing solar therapy. lol I know very granola but I like the vibes – which takes me to point number four.
4.) If we want to consider this practice through a medical lens, apparently vibing in the sun could be considered heliotherapy. which can be used to treat “severe cases of acne vulgaris, psoriasis, and eczema, seasonal affective disorder with depressed mood, jet lag, and vitamin D deficiency“. Dr. Joseph S. Alpert, discusses this and the practice of heliotherapy in his paper The Jeremiah Metzger Lecture: Jeremiah Metzger and the Era of Heliotherapy. I do know that I have the SADs (seasonal affective disorder with depressed mood) thanks to college up here and I feel we all have a vitamin D deficiency. So, I will use these as my reasons from now on.
5.) In all, the benefits of solar therapy/ a sun meditation practice that I have seen for myself specifically are as follows:
- regulate hormones and circadian rhythm
- combat fatigue and drowsiness
- improve sleep quality
- increase vitamin D
- improve or maintain mental health
The full list of things that it can (supposedly) do can be found HERE on Healthline (take that haters!) but the title does say it all. lol
6.) Finally, and unfortunately the reason why all of this googling began, I am indeed allergic to the sun (insert crying emoji) lol. Research on this topic is something that I have been avoiding but both my sister and I develop small itchy bumps on our arms, legs, and sometimes our necks when we stay in the sun for too long. I recently started wearing sunscreen on my face, to help even out my skin tone, but sunscreen wasn’t really a thing for everywhere else. Plus, I never get sunburns really. Well last week, after my prolonged sun session, the inside of my elbows and forearms begin to itch again and I knew the time had come. The Mayo Clinic confirmed my worst nightmare (ha) was true.
Now, I know what you’re saying, “Brea, throughout this whole article you talk about your sun excursions with so much love in your heart. Will you stop this practice now that you know it is crisping you up like a little chicken nugget?” The answer to that dear reader, is absolutely not lol. I have simply just started researching heavy UV protecting sunscreens and I will be diligent about applying and possibly reapplying them when the time is right. I also bought this SunBum Cool Down Cream last Summer that helped when I got sunburn and kind of helps with the itching as well. Honestly, I might even buy an aloe plant too because I didn’t choose the heliotheraputic lifestyle it chose me.
So, if you see me laid out on the beach or in the park this Summer please mind your business or wish me well and remind me to reapply my sunscreen and keep my aloe on deck… because I clearly need it.
Oh you can def join me too!
PS: I will be reviewing my favorite sunscreens for Black skin soon!