Does anyone else get sad in autumn? My fiancé and I were just in Virginia for the weekend and there was a day when everyone woke up and was so low energy and miffed at everything.
Anyone who knows about SAD, or seasonal affective disorder, knows how difficult the changing of seasons can be on your brain.
But is there a way to combat it? Surely we don’t have to spend the winter and fall months in a state of depression and laziness. Thankfully, there is a glimmer of hope to combat SADness — light therapy.
What is Light Therapy?
@innis.life Light Therapy Lamps are now available at the Innis College Library 🙂 Check out our Instagram for more information! #wellnesswednesday #lighttherapylamp #uoft #lighttherapy #inniscollege ♬ Hip Hop with impressive piano sound(793766) – Dusty Sky
I was introduced to the concept of light therapy years ago when I was in a counseling session. After explaining that I barely got outside during the fall and winter months to see the sun, my therapist suggested looking into a light box or a light lamp.
At the time, I brushed it off, but over 10 years later, I wish I had just bitten the bullet and invested in this acclaimed lamp.
Light therapy is, in its most basic form, the act of using light to combat seasonal affective disorder. When we’re exposed to less natural sunlight throughout the day, we’re more likely to get lackadaisical, tired, groggy, sad, or depressed — i.e., suffer from SAD.
Light boxes or lamps help combat SAD because they mimic the outdoor light that we don’t get throughout the winter. Research done by the Mayo Clinic found that light boxes can cause “a chemical change in the brain that lifts your mood and eases other symptoms of SAD.”
If you find your mental health or your disposition starts to darken a bit during the colder months, it might be due to a lack of sunlight.
The Benefits of Light Therapy
Something to note is that there will never be a magic pill, solution, workout routine, or anything that magically cures every single person of their ailments. Light boxes, though helpful to most, are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration to combat SAD and they might not work for you.
Some light therapy lamps are designed to help with certain afflictions, such as clearing your skin, righting your circadian rhythms, and more, but they are not, nor will they ever be, the magic solution to everything.
How to Use a Light Therapy Lamp
View this post on Instagram
If you’re using a light therapy lamp or a light box to combat a disorder, it might be best to talk to a healthcare provider to ensure that you’re finding the best light for you and your mental space.
Light therapy might not be the end-all-be-all for your mental health, and you might want to double up on other treatments to combat your SAD.
When you’re looking for a light box, it’s important to keep in mind that many of them differentiate dramatically. Make sure your light box has an ultraviolet filter and try to find light boxes with cool-white fluorescent lights or full-spectrum fluorescent lights.
You should use your light box or light therapy lamp within the first hour of waking up for about 20-30 minutes, keeping it 16-24 inches from your face, eyes open, but not looking directly into the light. Set the light box up according to the manufacturer’s instructions and use it at the same time every day in order to glean the best results.
You can increase or decrease that amount of time as much as you’re comfortable.
You shouldn’t expect to see results immediately, so don’t be discouraged. The University of British Columbia found that people started seeing results from light therapy in about two weeks.
I received the HappyLight on Thursday evening and plugged it in. My fiancé was in the room and actually had to leave because it was too bright. I sincerely believe this light holds the power of the sun. It was all the more jarring to test the light out later in the evening because the sun had started to set, and seeing what looked like early morning sunlight in my room wigged me out a bit.
But I set up the lamp at my desk and sat in front of it in the morning while I did a little bit of work and my quiet time.
Just the act of sitting in front of this light for 10 minutes (I did 20 minutes each morning and a little more throughout the day until it got up to an hour) made me feel lighter, happier, and more energized.
I’d been feeling a significant dip in my energy because it’s a stressful time in my life, and the lethargy that comes with fall never helps with that. But this lamp honestly made me feel better immediately.
I will say, it’s very bright. If you have sensitive eyes or you just don’t like bright lights, this lamp isn’t for you. I’ve genuinely never seen anything brighter other than the actual sun in my life.
This lamp might be my new favorite thing…ever. I am currently traveling and I heavily debated bringing my lamp because I love it so much.
I will warn you again, it’s very bright. So if you get headaches, don’t love to squint, or are a vampire, this lamp might be your worst enemy. But if you can handle a bright light for 20-60 minutes a day, please go get this.
I’m getting one for my mother and sister for Christmas, and I genuinely think everyone needs these.
I feel so much better after having sat in front of mine for just a week, and it’s not a hassle or a challenge whatsoever. I genuinely think this is one of my favorite things I’ve ever tested, and I will use my lamp every day this season.
Have you tried light therapy to combat SAD before? Comment below!
For More Articles About Mental Health, Read These Next: