Feeling Depressed? Here’s a simple way to start to feel better.
Sometimes, in the midst of a depressive episode, we feel there is almost nothing we can do start to feel better. We feel hopeless, listless, and unable to accomplish anything.
That’s why it’s essential for us to understand how sensitive our mind and body are to the seemingly magical power of sunlight. Both our eyes and skin are extremely sensitive to natural light, as exposure to light is what tells our brain that it’s time to “wake up” and get moving, providing us with energy, a positive attitude, and enthusiasm. This is exactly what we need to getting more of when we’re feeling down; you can treat depression with light exposure. If you’re struggling with depression, consider sunlight an easy way to start to feel better.
Sunlight helps out our body establish and maintain an ideal circadian rhythm, which regulates sleep and affects our mood, energy level, appetite, and yes, even our mood.
If you’re struggling with depression, anxiety, or insomnia, have a job with late or overnight hours, you don’t want to underestimate the effect light can have on helping you.
Here’s some tips on using sunlight to increase mood:
- Try to get it earlier in the day; ideally first thing in the morning. This starts the hormonal changes that energize when we are supposed to be most alert.
- 30 minutes is a good goal on a sunny day, while 60 minutes might be ideal on an extremely overcast day.
- Get the light by being outside. Sorry, simply driving to work in the morning or sitting by a sunny window isn’t going to be as effective. Windows block some of the rays that interact with our body to boost mood.
- Similarly, try to avoid sunglasses, which also are reducing the impact light has when reaching our eyes. If you’re getting outside early enough, you’ll probably find you don’t need them as much as you think.
Think about some ways you can incorporate this into your life.
Is it possible to eat breakfast outside on a porch? How about swapping morning exercise on the treadmill in front of the tv for a jog or bicycle ride outside? Can you make some part of your daily commute on foot in an outdoor environment?
You might be thinking that this sounds simple enough during the warmer parts of the year, but what about winter? If you’ve struggled with depression for a long time, you’ve probably noticed depression is more likely to occur during darker months. Some people even get depressed only during this time of year, which is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Even if time of year isn’t a big factor for you, sunlight helps any one that’s depressed, even if it’s for other reasons.
Fortunately, you can use a special light box designed to give you a large amount the light spectrum that stimulates the brain. It might be something you can use at your desk or while eating breakfast first thing in the morning. There are many available at a variety of price points.
There’s also some evidence that light ear buds can have the same impact, maybe with some more convenience and portability, too.
Try using sunlight as a way to fight of depression, boost your mood and energy level. Combined with other strategies, you can overcome depression!