When the days get short, many people—especially women—experience a sudden and sometimes alarming decline in energy and mood, along with sleeping troubles.
This is a type of seasonal depression called the winter blues, winter depression, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and it typically starts in October or November and lifts in the spring.
Shifting moods and behaviours associated with the winter blues
If you’ve ever come home from work tired and bummed out, put your pyjamas on and snuggled up on the couch under blankets at 6:00 p.m., you may have experienced some winter blues.
Symptoms of the winter blues include:
- Lethargy, especially during the day
- Reduced interest in activities you usually enjoy
- Feelings of sadness, hopelessness and unhappiness
- Sleeping troubles – either too much or not enough
Fortunately, many people get relief from the winter blues through light therapy. If you believe your symptoms are mild and they arrived with the winter darkness, there’s no harm in trying light therapy to boost your mood. But if you’re feeling more than a little blue or you’re concerned about your mental health, please visit your doctor!
What is light therapy?
Light therapy is simply adding light to your day by spending more time in the sun or beside a sun lamp. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the light from sun lamps helps you regulate melatonin and serotonin levels, two hormones that affect your sleep-wake cycle and mood, respectively.
Indoor lighting may seem bright but it’s nothing compared to what the sun gives us: An indoor light has a brightness scale of about 100 lux whereas a sunny day delivers 50,000 lux. It’s a big difference so no wonder it’s tough to adjust to those long, dark days! The good news is that light therapy is often effective at treating seasonal symptoms.
Two light therapy practices to lighten your mood
- Use a sun lamp each morning, starting with 15 minutes in the fall and working up to 30 minutes during the winter. Choose a sun lamp rated for 10,000 lux, which equals the brightness of morning sun.
- Go outside during the day. This helps because light exposure, physical activity and the great outdoors are all mood-boosters!
People often notice a positive difference after a few days or a week of light therapy and it works best when practiced daily.
Who shouldn’t use sun lamps
If you’re sensitive to light, or you have macular degeneration or bipolar disorder, using a sun lamp is probably not right for you. Talk to your doctor about other treatments for the winter blues.
While it’s impossible to avoid the winter darkness entirely, you can outsmart the winter blues with light therapy.
We’re here to help brighten you up. If you’d like to add even more radiance to these dark days, give us a call to book a mood-boosting massage or a rejuvenating facial.
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