Light Treatment for Winter Blues? That makes little to no sense… How does light make us feel different?
2 Minutes of Honesty
Let’s be honest about it, just for a little while; who wouldn’t hibernate in winter if they had the chance? Who would be quite happy to forego all their usual pleasures if it meant that they could go to sleep as soon as the days started to get shorter, and not wake up again until the first signs of spring? How many of us find that we feel gloomy and depressed as winter approaches or, worse, experience physical and mental dread wondering just how we will get through it, especially if we spend our days in artificially-lit homes or offices, or outside wrapped in so many layers of clothing our friends think we’ve suddenly put on a hundred pounds in weight.
Winter is hard and not just because it’s cold. The difference between the longest day of the year with its almost endless natural light, and the shortest day when we have no choice but to stay indoors for most of the time, is huge. No wonder people struggle just to get out of bed on winter mornings, and have to force themselves to go to work when all they really want to do is to get back under the covers; these are typical symptoms of the ‘winter blues’, a recognised form of depression caused by lack of sunlight.
We Love Sunlight!
Everyone feels happier when the sun is shining; life is easier, our surroundings look better, we don’t have to battle against the elements, and we can plan and execute so much more – summer parties, barbecues on the beach, walks in the countryside, and late evenings sitting outside watching the sun sink slowly over the horizon. We even wake up in the mornings with a spring in our step simply because it’s already daylight, such a contrast to the winter months when it can feel as if we spend all our time in the dark. What makes the biggest difference to how we feel is the amount of natural sunlight we enjoy. It not only makes us feel happier, it has a profound effect on our mental wellbeing, too.
The Wonders of Technology
Fortunately, the technology we enjoy today, besides allowing us to live almost non-stop lives, has also enabled us to find a way to compensate for the lack of natural sunlight in winter, and we can now take advantage of this technology in the form of light therapy provided by special lights that have been developed to deliver the next best thing to natural sunlight; just a short period spent in front of one of these lights every day can eliminate the winter blues, and make that SAD feeling go away.
We haven’t yet found a way to do away with winter altogether but, with light treatment, we have at last found a way to eliminate one of the worst of its effects – the winter blues.