Don't Call it a New Year's Resolution
New Year's Resolutions seem to have a low success rate, so I would rather avoid that term. So, welcome to the start of my self-improvement plan. My goal is to directly witness 365 consecutive sunrises, or at least whatever passes for a sunrise on about half the days in Upstate NY. The rule is simple: to be outside soaking up all the visible and invisible rays coming at us starting at least 30 minutes before sunrise and until the sun actually becomes visible in the local sky, without any filtering through windows, eyeglasses, or anything else. I have actually been doing this since late November, but recently realized it might make a good theme for a blog about wellness. Hopefully I can shed some light (ha ha!) on various health habits and wellness tips that are often ignored or perhaps long forgotten.
So why sunrises?! I'm glad you asked! There is a whole lot of goodness packed into this little ritual. First is the sun exposure itself, and I am not just referring to vitamin D (those of us in Northern latitudes aren't getting direct enough light to make vitamin D right now anyway, but I digress). Our bodies rely on signals received from the sun in the form of specific wavelengths of light that are present at different times of the day. Sunrise is super important to signal waking up (of course) and it also starts a cascade in the endocrine system that will tell our bodies when it is time to go to sleep! Midday light and sunset are important as well (365 Lunch Breaks and 365 Sunsets coming soon!). In the olden days it was easy to pick up these signals because everything happened outside. But now we have to do it with intention to counteract all the artificial light we expose ourselves to all day.
Next is exercise. A body in motion tends to stay in motion. Everybody knows exercise is important, so I won't belabor the point now. A 30 minute walk every day may not be enough to make up for a modern sedentary lifestyle, but for someone currently walking zero minutes a day it's a great place to start. A short walk becomes a long walk, and then a jog, and then a jog to one of those newfangled outdoor playground looking things that is actually exercise equipment!
Last is intention. Setting a goal like this adds some structure to one's day, not to mention the effect of making a conscious decision to improve one's Self. For me specifically it is giving me an excuse to practice writing and photography. Also, while it doesn't seem all that daunting now to try to be out the door by 7 am, just wait until June when first light is at 4:50! It is no accident that I started doing this in November, but I look forward to adjusting my internal clock and taking advantage of all that extra time in the day this summer. Particularly after the disruptions of the last 3 (!?) years, I think there are many people that would benefit from adding some structure like this to their day.
In a world of Tide Pod and Cinnamon Challenges, I am really excited to share a healthy challenge with you. And while everyone has different limitations and obligations that may make 365 Sunrises difficult, the reward for making it work will be that much greater. Or if you have other goals take the spirit of the endeavor and think of a small change you can make that will lead to bigger changes for the better. If nothing else please join me and enjoy my sunrises right here, even if it is at 2 pm in between Zoom calls. Please reach out with questions and suggestions that I can address in future posts!