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Where are summers?

Editorial 9

March over, April over, and now May is about to end too. But we are yet to see a real day of summer in Kashmir. Though one cannot claim this is something that has got to do with the broader issue of climate change, the weather is for sure quite surprising these days. We see rains in the afternoon and relatively cooler (and at times cold) evenings. So much so that many of the woollen garments have not been packed in closets. We use sweaters, even jackets now and then. This after Kashmir saw one of the most severe winters which began in October last year and ended in March, or did they really? It is not secret that most of us vie for a warm, or even a hot day of summer. We all feel we have had enough rain and snow in the last six months. And we can do really well with some summer days. Though picnics and outings are out of question due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a few months of summer would still be cherished by all. Besides, these cloudy afternoons that we are so repeatedly witnessing are just adding to the overall gloom across Kashmir. In these extraordinary days of the pandemic ravaging the entire globe, a day of sunshine and sparkling rays do a lot to uplift one’s mood. As for the science of it, research says that exposure to sunshine and light therapy increases the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is associated with boosting a person’s mood and helping a person feel calm, focused and less anxious. At night, exposure to darkness and decreased lighting triggers the brain to produce another hormone called melatonin. This hormone is responsible for helping you sleep. Exposure to sunshine generally has more impact on a person’s mood than temperature, rain, or any other environmental factor. Sunshine is most definitely considered to be a mood and behaviour enhancer. In addition to being a mood enhancer, exposure to sunshine increases your vitamin D levels, gives you stronger bones, lowers your blood pressure and gives you a higher quality of sleep. Studies have shown links between low levels of vitamin D and higher rates of numerous diseases, pointing to the fact that the body relies on sufficient sunlight for its primary systems to operate efficiently, including for optimal cardiovascular, immune, respiratory, and skeletal system function. Research is ongoing but studies have indicated that sunlight may provide a significant protective effect for osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, breathing problems, inflammation, diabetes, and some cancers. For example, multiple studies have shown reduced rates in the development of various types of cancer (including of the colon and breast) with vitamin D and calcium supplementation. In these times of global crisis, a few good months of summers may be just the apt dose of health and happiness that we all need.