I don’t know about you, but the weather near me has taken a subtle but unmistakable turn towards the autumnal. As much as we don’t want to admit it, summer is on the wane, and those of us with a tendency towards seasonal sadness need to start preparing ourselves. If you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, right now is the time to consider getting a light box. I like to start using mine around Labor Day, so that my body never has a chance to start missing the sunlight too much.
Heliotherapy, also know as light therapy, is considered to be the most effective method of treating Seasonal Affective Disorder, and can also help with non-seasonal depression and seasonal sadness not quite serious enough for a diagnosis. The primary form of light therapy is the use of a light box, which is a specially designed lamp which usually packs around 10,000 lux (for the record, that is a lot more light than any ordinary light bulb). By sitting in front of one for 30 minutes every morning, you can dramatically improve your quality of life this winter.* It’s not the same as getting plenty of natural summer sunlight, but it is a start.
Now would also be a great time to begin establishing a habit of getting outside for 20 to 30 minutes every day, ideally between the hours of 10am and 2pm. That is when the rays of the sun are strongest (which is why sunscreen manufacturers always recommend avoiding direct sunlight during those hours during the summer), which means that you will get the most benefit from it during the winter. Even if you don’t feel like you need the extra sunlight now, it’s best to establish the habit before you are mired in depression. Trying to add something new to your daily routine when you already feel as energetic as an insomniac tree sloth tends to add unnecessary stress to your life, as you can well imagine.
To be clear, just because I’m urging you to prepare for winter doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy the rest of the summer. Get out there and have some fun!
*I am not a psychiatrist or a doctor. Please consult with a medical professional before starting treatment with a light box, as they can provide you with specific guidance.