Around this time every year, I start to feel the “winter blues” setting in. It’s a motivation-sapping combination of fatigue and lethargy that makes it hard to get things done at work and around the house.
And since spring (unfortunately) won’t arrive for some time to come, I’ve been searching for remedies that may be able to help me, and any of you who experience the winter blues as well, feel better. That’s how I started learning about light therapy and light boxes, and I’ll be telling you all about them in today’s blog post!
What Is Light Therapy?
Light therapy consists of exposure to sunlight or artificial light, and it is used to help treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and other conditions. Light therapy often includes the use of a light box, which provides an artificial source of bright, full spectrum light that mimics natural sunlight.
What’s The Difference Between SAD & The “Winter Blues?”
Seasonal affective disorder is a type of seasonal depression that often worsens in winter when there are fewer hours of sunlight. Common symptoms of SAD include depressed moods, low energy, difficulty concentrating, overeating, and sleeping more than normal.
According to a 2015 review, around 1-5% of people experience SAD. Additionally, an estimated 15-20% of people suffer from a milder form of the condition called subsyndromal SAD (S-SAD). This more common form of seasonal depression is often referred to as the “winter blues.”
Who Can Benefit From Using A Light Box?
While SAD and S-SAD are different conditions, light therapy in the form of a light box can help improve both! Light therapy is generally well-tolerated, and side effects like headaches or irritability are usually minimal.
So if you struggle with low energy, lack of focus, and low moods during the wintertime, there’s a good chance that using a light box can help you feel better! It may be just the pick-me-up you need to make it through the season in better spirits. :-)
Choosing A Light Box
If you’re considering buying a light box, you have plenty of options to choose from online. My daughter Britta really likes her Verilux HappyLight, which is featured in the photos throughout this post. (It’s a slightly older model, so it looks a little different from the one currently available on Amazon.)
If you’re interested in a slightly more portable option, check out the VIPEX Light Therapy Lamp. At around 1/2” thick, you can easily take it with you to work and beyond!
How To Use A Light Box To Chase Away The Winter Blues
Here are a few general guidelines for how to use a light box:
- Position the light box between 6” and 24” away from you.
- Use your light box for 20-60 minutes per day.
- You can work, read, or do other activities while you use it.
- Morning use can be particularly beneficial, but you can use it anytime!
- For best results, use it consistently every day.
- Be sure to refer to the user manual for more specific instructions for use.
How do you cope with the winter blues?