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The One Simple Item That Will Make You Less Miserable This Winter

light box

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 box therapy, and I’ll be telling you all about it in today’s blog post.

light box

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.

light box

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.”

light box

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. :-)

light box

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.)

light box

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?

Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.
I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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  • I actually got a light box last year. I really love it. I’m normally a very cheerful person, but something about the colder months just does a number on my moods. Part of.it is when the colder months come without much sun it can mess with your levels. I think it really helped.

  • I ended up getting a light box, however, the light was so bright even at the lowest setting that it gave me a headache even when I placed it beside me instead of in front of me. I find it really unpleasant to have it on. Any suggestions of how I can rectify this? I really wanted to love this light box.

  • I love that I found your site, Jillee. It’s a fun read, with a lot of good ideas. Thanks. When the children were all at home, I always had Christmas lights up for December. But the blues would hit really hard in January, so I started putting up different lights for each month. January was white & blue with snowflakes & snowmen decor. February, of course, was valentine colors. March the greens & so on until summer finally got here. Even then I’d do the whole red, white & blue from Memorial day until Labor day. Then start in on fall colors until Christmas again. Now that we’re alone I’m not doing it so much & probably need to get a light box.

  • Thanks for the great post! A note that the light is intended to mimic sunrise so it’s best to use it first thing in the morning. Otherwise it could interfere with your normal circadian rhythm.

  • Great idea. I’ve heard of this before. I take medicine for a chemical imbalance. I know I must have some form of SAD – having the blues and not feeling like doing stuff. My therapist that I see was telling me how these work.
    She was also telling me of a cheaper version . You can get the same effect with the light boxes for plants in colder weather.

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