Let’s face it; living in areas like Central New York can be quite depressing during the cold and snowy months. Buffalo and Rochester ranked near the top of several lists including coldest winter days, chilliest winter lows, and cloudiest major cities. Syracuse topped out at fourth for most rainy days in a year.
Winter blues can have negative effects such as moodiness, lack of energy, mental fatigue, and even increased appetite. While these symptoms can be seen during long stretches of cloudy and rainy days any time of the year, they are most likely to occur during the winter months. In regions that see many dark days, people are looking for ways to combat the dreariness.
One of the most popular ways to combat seasonal depression is through light therapy. Known scientifically as phototherapy, ‘happy lights’ retail online for as little as $40.
On sunny days, humans naturally absorb Vitamin D from the sun’s UVB rays. When the body becomes vitamin D deficient, mood is heavily affected. While consuming vitamin D through foods like fish, eggs, and milk can help, it may not be sufficient to manage vitamin D levels during the winter. Thus, the happy lights come into play.
Phototherapy devices give off a bright ultraviolet glow which mimics natural outdoor light. Exposure to bright light from a light therapy box or lamp is thought to alter the body’s circadian rhythms and suppress the body’s natural release of melatonin. Together, these cause biochemical changes in your brain that help reduce symptoms of seasonal depression.
Happy lights also increase the production of vitamin D and thus provide an alternative to natural sunlight when it is not available.
Many light therapy devices require only about 20-30 minutes of exposure for full effect. Most recommend usage right after waking up for a quick way to increase mood.
Be sure to check out the Verilux HappyLight line of products!
By Levi Stein
Photo Source: blisstree.com