I am literally sitting in front of my computer with a therapeutic light box on my desk, shining at me as I write. It’s bright, but not annoyingly so… as long as I don’t look at it directly.
It feels like I’m writing on a patio on a sunny day, even giving off some warmth that intensifies this feeling. As a bonus, this particular light box comes with a negative ionizer. What are negative ions anyway? They’re ions created in nature through the effective combination of water, air, sunlight, and the Earth’s natural radiation. Mentally and physically, I feel like I’m on vacation in the summer. And I love it.
I live in Alberta, Canada, where it’s north and the autumn is gloomy and the winters are long and dark. And, as Jon Snow would say, “Winter is coming.” (Yes, I just quoted Game of Thrones. Nerd alert!) And Jon Snow knows a thing or two about what’s up.
But, unlike the show, you don’t have to wait months at a time for it— it’s really coming. Right now.
Being prone to seasonal blues and the energy loss and lack of concentration that comes with it, known as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), this year I decided to try to do something about it rather than grin (more like grimace) and bear it. From all my reading, a good place to start is a light box. For those of you who have never heard of it or have heard little, you’re probably wondering what it is and how it works.
A light box is a compact board of light that almost reminds one of a tanning bed though you aren’t receiving a tan or a sunburn, as the UV rays are minimal. It’s like bright lamp on steroids.
The point of this is to mimic favorable outdoor light that you find in the spring and summer. Light from these boxes affect the back of the retina, which, sends nerve signals to your brain and alters the chemicals and hormones in the parts of your brain responsible for mood. According to a study published to the NCBI, this therapy has been proven to be capable of desired results.
Apparently it’s so effective that doctors sometimes recommend light therapy for other conditions other than SAD. These include:
- Other types of depression that don’t occur seasonally
- Jet lag
- Sleep disorders
- Adjusting to a nighttime work schedule
- Skin conditions such as psoriasis
(Note: Not a treatment for bi-polar, as it can trigger mania. As always, it’s important to recognize your symptoms and discuss them with your doctor. For a list of symptoms related to S.A.D., please read.)
The recommended use for a light box is sitting in front of it 30-45 minutes a day. The boxes have been rated as safe for use with minimal side effects. In rare cases, one might endure a mild headache or nausea, all which can generally be fixed by easing your way into light therapy.
And there are many different light boxes on the market ranging from $40 to over $200, all depending on the features you’d like to have. If you want to get fancy, you can buy one with a sunrise simulator. Or if you prefer blue to blazing bright, you can opt for one that gives off this serene color. The choices are boundless and an internet search can help you find your best match.
Thus far, I’m pleased. What I love most about this treatment is that I’m able to get things done and that it’s not a burden on my day. Whether it’s sitting here at my desk writing, reading, putting on make-up, or eating breakfast, I can do it– all while reaping the big bright benefits of light therapy.