I love Aesop’s fables. And in the fable, “The Ant & The Grasshopper,” we learn that a common grasshopper and ant are neighbors. The grasshopper is so focused on enjoyment that the entire summer rushes by without any preparation for the cold months ahead. On the other hand, the tiny ant braves the grasshopper’s peer pressure by forging her own path in a field scavenging food. She ignores ridicule and prepares anyway. We easily can predict the future outcome experienced by both during the pending harsh winter!
While this is a whimsical (yet instructive) children’s fable, it is easy to apply this story to ourselves . . . and then feel badly, if we’re not careful. After all, didn’t we hear in the recent General Conference to prepare both physically and spiritually for what lies ahead? What if we want to be like that intrepid ant, busily scurrying and prepping important things, but what if right now just getting out of bed is our herculean task for the day? What if our heavy burdens sadden our hearts and slow our feet? Or even more, what if we feel frozen, paralyzed with fear from current events, unable to take any action of preparation whatsoever?
In my own bouts with concussions and the ensuing discouragements that set in, I had begun to despair that I could ever feel productive again. I so wanted to be “anxiously engaged in a good cause, [doing] many things of [my] own free will, and [bringing] to pass much righteousness . . .”, but I struggled because of my injuries. During the season of my multiple concussions, I knew that some might give me a pass since I was dealing with such overwhelming challenges. But still, I stewed at my inability to be engaged fully in the good “ant” causes that existed and needing doing. I was struggling to find patience with my situation.
In the midst of that confusion, in trying to find the balance of what God would be pleased with regarding my little-ant efforts, I learned of a simple tool that rejuvenated me. And day by day, as I started to apply that tool, I began to feel light and hope. Those feelings were tiny at first but became clearer and brighter the more I used my new tool to banish discouragement, panic, and weakness. Little by little I began to feel strong enough that I could move more readily into the life that Aesop’s productive ant demonstrated. And in this experience (I’ll share the tool in a moment), I began to feel hope.
There is always hope. And of all the many tools to strengthen hope that exist, I was surprised at the simplicity of one. That tool was this—daily sunlight exposure.
Isn’t that amazing? (Maybe it was the sunlight on that little active ant’s back that fueled his really cool activities! All joking aside, research shows we can physically renew and rejuvenate ourselves—thereby reducing discouragement and physical burnout—through pure sunlight.)
Francesco Benedetti et al. reported in the Journal of Affective Disorders that “natural sunlight can be an underestimated and uncontrolled light therapy for bipolar depression.” Other researchers have found that the absence of natural sunlight negatively impacts cognitive ability. For example, Shia T. Kent et al. found a significant link between the struggle to think clearly and low exposure to sunlight. There are many studies that expand on this kind of research and that illustrate the important role that natural sunlight plays in helping us maintain an emotional balance. Emotional balance in the last days will be crucial. And natural sunlight can contribute to that.
Obviously, ten minutes a day or more in the sun will not cure everything. Additionally, this kind of a natural practice needs to last more than a few days. And clearly, there are times for medicine if emotional imbalances, sadness, or deep mood feelings last longer than two weeks. (Consult your medical care provider if this is the case.) But many, many studies have shown a clear link to natural sunlight and its impact on a positive mood disposition.
Good to hear, right? I know increasing my sunlight exposure was heaven-sent for me after my difficult experiences with head injuries and the deep mood swings that came in the weeks after. By ensuring I sat daily in the sun or took a very short walk outdoors, I began to feel less discouraged and more hopeful.
So, here’s a suggestion if you’d like to try it! Keep a natural sunlight log for 30 days. (I’m attaching a free one in this article to make it easy.) See if you can schedule a moment of sitting or walking in a safe place each day in natural sunlight. Research has shown that this can help lighten discouragement and amp up cognitive sensibilities. Sitting or walking in sunlight can help bring a sense of peace that—with consistency and over time—has the ability to dissipate discouragement. For some people, natural sunlight makes such a difference in feelings of rejuvenation.
We all know we are to be preparing for challenging times ahead. I think most of us, if not all, want to make sure we are like that successful ant—actively ready for the pending difficulties prophesied during the last days. And research shows that one of the easy ways to replenish ourselves so we can succeed in difficult tasks is to take care of our physical bodies. Through sunlight (and other means, which we’ll discuss in future articles) we can re-energize in a way that can make such a difference in sustaining productivity and resilience.
Now, why does sharing this matter so much to me? Because of skyrocketing anxiety levels that are encroaching on so many in society. I want to help. Again, some might need different approaches when feeling discouraged, but what if the benefit of natural sunlight worked for you or one of your loved ones? They are a child of God, as are you. He loves them and you very much. Just imagine how, perhaps, taking a few daily minutes of simple sunlight could renew physical feelings of well-being. Just picture yourself taking that daily moment on the porch or in the woods or on a walk—without disturbances— to savor nature and to #HearHim in sunlight’s quiet, reflective warmth. It can make all the difference in building a resilient perspective.
If you have been struggling, I send love. You can succeed. In addition to the blessings of scripture study, prayer, and so many other spiritual activities, God’s natural sunlight can help. In addition to other aids for discouragement, anxiety, etc., research shows natural sunlight can renew your ability, bit by bit, to be like the Aesop ant and to be able to increase in doing activities. And that is very good news. So, download the sunlight tracker PDF and write me! Join the Cindy’s 30 Days to Done supportive Facebook group. Let’s celebrate you as you have successes that are beautiful ones.
Download the Sunlight Tracker PDF here:
And I’d love to know. What else has worked for you in building an ability to move away from discouragement and move into renewed vigor and hope, like the valiant little ant? I’d love to hear from you and maybe even spotlight you in a future article!
Cindy Sue Bezas, M.S., is a mindset trainer, author, and speaker who passionately believes all people are capable of great things. She obtained her master’s degree in Adult/Organizational Learning & Leadership from the University of Idaho, and her specific research focused on trauma recovery and low self-image. She is a multi-concussion survivor and host of the Concussion: There Is Hope podcast, which ranked #33 in Mental Health iTunes podcasts in the United States. To subscribe to the podcast for helpful information on concussion research, please visit this link: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/concussion-there-is-hope/id1493243455.
To join her Facebook group, Cindy’s 30 Days to Done, CLICK HERE to celebrate small wins in fun ways, 30 days at a time. (If you are experiencing persistent, low mood symptoms, seek the advice of a board-certified mental health provider for assistance. We need you with us!)
 Doctrine & Covenants 58:26-28.
 Benedetti, Francesco, et al. “Morning Sunlight Reduces Length of Hospitalization in Bipolar Depression.” Journal of Affective Disorders, vol. 62, no. 3, Feb. 2001, pp. 221-23, doi:10.1016/S0165-0327(00)00149-X.
 Kent, Shia T., et al. “Effect of Sunlight Exposure on Cognitive Function among Depressed and Non-depressed Participants: a REGARDS Cross-sectional Study.” Environmental Health, vol. 8, 28 July 2009, doi:10.1186/1476-069X-8-34.