If you're reading this blog there is probably a pretty good chance that you are well prepared when you head out to the beach. You have packed up a solid arsenal of sun protective items so you can enjoy your day in the sun without worrying too much about the sun's harmful rays:
- Lots of sunscreen (read "5 Tips For Applying Sunscreen" here)
- Drinks (the hydrating ones)
- Sun protective clothing (Radicool we hope!)
- A sun hat
- Maybe even a sun umbrella
- Oh...and a UV swimsuit of course
The essentials for a day at the beach. Good stuff! You're all set.
Now, unless you're a professional (or wanna-be) surfer and you're at the beach everyday, what are you doing about your sun protection all of the other days of the year, which undoubtedly outnumber the beach-going days? Or even on those days you do go to the beach, what about the first part of the day or later on? Are you ever outside? What about your kids, if you're a parent?
Because you know what??? Mr. Sun and his UV rays aren't just at the beach. They are in your yard or at the park or on the walk to school or work, too. Are you being just as diligent about protecting yourself and your loved ones as if you were at the beach?
If you answered "Weeeeelllllllll, not QUITE as diligent", don't go beating yourself up. You're definitely not alone.
A German study last year revealed in its study population that while sun protection practices as they related to 3-6 year old children were pretty good in general, there was a drop off in practices in everyday outdoor settings as compared to at the beach. The study also revealed that while sunscreen and sun hat usage in "normal" settings was pretty good, "less attention was paid to" wearing sun protective clothing, sunglasses and seeking shade.
Why? Well the study did not go there, but I have a (not ground-breaking) theory:
The education and practices of promoting sunscreen and sun hats have been around a little longer as sun protective measures than the other practices have and have thus become more habitual on a day-to-day basis. We hit auto-pilot and, thankfully, some good practices - albeit not all of them - have eked into our routines. On the other hand, a trip to the beach - for most of us - is a bit out of the ordinary and as such we treat it differently in how we go about "doing it". We are temporarily knocked out of our routine and become more conscious of what we need to, to best get through the day and we prepare for it accordingly.
So what can we take away from all of this? Perhaps a couple of things:
- As the title suggests, Mr. Sun and his army of harmful UV rays are pretty indiscriminate when it comes to where they deploy themselves. It ain't just at the beach. It is everywhere and we need to be equally conscious about it no matter where we are headed at a given time.
- The respective usages of sun protective clothing, sunglasses and shade have to become equally used weapons in combatting the negative effects of the sun as sunscreen and sun hats have become. So until they become part of our everyday routine we need to create our own triggers that knock us off our personal auto-pilots and remind us that we might be leaving a few soldiers behind as we head out to combat Mr. Sun.
I certainly know that I have had to work on the above - it has not been a routine habit for a good part of my life. Not altogether bad by any means, but my diligence level has definitely grown in the past number of years as I've learned more about the harmful side of the sun and as...ahem...I have gotten a little bit older and perhaps more in touch with my mortality. But as a parent, I am pretty lucky that most of the triggering I need is those two faces I see everyday that are counting on Mom and Dad to do what's best for their health and what's best for Mom and Dad's health too, as they need us to be around for a while. They are worth it. IT is worth it. And - whatever your own triggers and inspiration are - so are you and yours worth it.
So good luck to you in remaining conscious about the sun's harmful rays and forging the right habits to combat them!