It is summer, the sun is shining and I’ve noticed something interesting – there are women of all shapes, sizes and ages on the beach having fun. What’s going on? Could there be a correlation between sunshine and confidence?
My news feed (and I would guess yours) is still full of the usual posts trying to persuade us that if we just buy this diet or that exercise programme, we will be able to go to the beach without feeling like a freak. But it seems that, this year, women are simply ignoring them!
I consider myself incredibly fortunate to live in Cornwall, just minutes from a selection of stunning beaches and, in fairness, for much of the year I have no problem with my beach body, wrapped as it is in jumpers and scarves and waterproofs. But in the tiny window of opportunity usually presented by a UK summer, in order to wear a swim suit on the beach I have to stick my fingers in my ears and shout “lalalalala” to drown out that “too old, too fat, too wobbly” message I have been subjected to for the whole of my adult life.
But not this year. I have swum in the sea after work on at least 8 occasions in the last three weeks. I have changed into my swimming costume on the beach, walked to the water, swum, walked back up to my spot and dressed on the beach and I genuinely have not cared what anyone thinks. But more than that, I have looked around me at other women, rocking their curves or embracing their lack of curves, running around with their kids, enjoying an ice cream (in public) and generally having fun.
So what has changed? Have we finally accepted that, in order to have a beach body, all we need is a beach and a body? Is there a correlation between sunshine and confidence? The answer is a resounding “yes”!
This year the UK has seen record amounts of sunshine – (it just keeps on shining) and there is a wealth of research to link sunshine and well-being.
Sunshine is essential to vitamin D production, a deficit of vitamin D is linked to a whole range of health issues including mood disorders and so this weather is genuinely contributing to the nation’s happiness. It’s easier to feel confident when you feel happy and, when everyone around you is happy too, you are less likely to feel judged by them.
As a further boost to that good mood, sunshine helps to regulate serotonin and melatonin production. Serotonin helps us to manage mood, sleep, digestion, sexual desire, memory and learning. Melatonin helps us to develop a strong circadian rhythm so our bodies naturally know when to fall asleep and when to wake up. Assuming that the heat is not keeping you awake, a good night’s sleep and a fully functioning brain are really going to help you to feel happy, healthy and confident.
Psychologically, it seems, sunshine and confidence go hand in hand. I applaud the woman I watched doing hand stands in the sand with her granddaughter, the heavily pregnant friend who made her own bikini when she couldn’t find one that fitted well, the teenage girls leaping off the rocks into the water, the unedited beach fun photos on social media and, if you are out there having fun in the sunshine – I applaud you too.
This evening I will be staking out my spot in the sand and feeling nothing but pleasure. I hope you will be staking out your spot in the sunshine too.