The Sunshine Effect: How Sunlight Boosts Your Mental Health
Walking on sunshine in the winter? You betcha! It might sound like a PNW weather anomaly, but here in the heart of the Pacific Northwest, we've hit the jackpot with a crazy amount of year-round sunshine. Now, we're not claiming to be your go-to spot for a perpetual 80-degree SoCal vibe – nope, Tri-Cities likes to keep you on your toes as we dance through all four seasons, embracing the wild ride of temperature changes.
The abundance of sunshine we soak up during the fall and winter is a stark contrast to the gray, drizzly reputation that often blankets the western side of Washington. Doubtful? Let's tune in to what the community has to say about the golden rays that Tri-Cities is graciously gifted with.
The Community's Take
We had the pleasure of chatting with a newer community member, Julie Woodward, to uncover what guided her decision to establish roots in a new town. Dive into the video above, where Julie shares her journey from living in Seattle for many years to the somewhat dreary weather of the Oregon Coast. Seeking a change, she stumbled upon Tri-Cities and hasn't looked back!
Since making the move, Julie has embraced the opportunity to explore farmers' markets and enjoy the company of adorable dog pups in ways she couldn't before. According to Julie, she just can't get enough of our golden rays. ☀️
We wanted to tap into the community's perspective further, so we reached out to Sherry Gartside, an Event Coordinator for the City of Richland. With an impressive 42 years at the City and 16 in the Parks and Public Facilities Department, Sherry is the true MVP! We asked her, "How do you think the abundance of sunlight in this region contributes to the appeal of our parks and recreational areas?" She enthusiastically shared, "When the sun is shining, you tend to want to be outdoors, and we are fortunate enough to have beautiful parks and trails to facilitate these activities... and the park use goes WAY up on sunny warm days as opposed to rainy/cloudy days." Let the sunshine bring the parks to life!
So, I'm boldly claiming that we bask in more sunshine than our neighboring areas, but is this assertion grounded in reality? We consulted with the local meteorologist at KEPR Action News, Jefferson Donovan, to inform us on the scientific scoop behind our sunny reputation. According to Donovan, "it all relates back to topography…The amount of sunlight in the Tri-Cities is greatly increased when compared to areas west of the Cascades."
Donovan delved into the intricacies, explaining how moist air from the Pacific Ocean condenses to form clouds. As it encounters the Cascades, it ascends, dries, and warms, resulting in a sunnier eastern Washington. Brace yourself for the stats – the Tri-Cities boast a whopping 300 days of sunshine annually, while Seattle settles for 200 days with cloud cover, and the Forks/Quillayute area endures 240 days of cloud cover.
But here's a fascinating tidbit Donovan dropped: during winter, the Tri-Cities experiences temperature inversions leading to occasional fog and clouds, causing some gloomy days. Donovan spills the beans, stating, "It is not unusual to have a very cloudy and gray day in the Tri-Cities, but traveling upwards any distance in elevation can bring a person above the clouds and into sunshine. It’s pretty majestic!" Who knew? Donovan did! ☀️
A Connection to Mental Wellness
We've heard from the community, we've checked the stats, but why does the abundance of sun matter? Well, there's a direct link between the sunshine we soak up and our mental well-being, as evidenced by Seasonal Depression. According to the National Library of Medicine, "Humans may not survive healthily without sunlight. Along with facilitating sterilization and energy supply, sunlight provides protection against a wide range of diseases—not only physical diseases but also mental disorders." Plus, "people living in areas with longer and higher sunlight exposure levels exhibit fewer depressive symptoms." ☀️ Let the sun be your mood-boosting companion!
Making a direct link between moving to Tri-Cities and increased happiness might be a stretch, but what I can confidently tell you is this: we're swimming in an abundance of sunshine! And we all know sunshine equals happiness, right? So, you connect the dots! ☀️😉
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Tri-IDEAs is a program exploring and celebrating Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility through tourism in the Tri-Cities.