The winter solstice has arrived, which means our exposure to natural sunlight is going to drop exponentially. Natural sunlight is our primary source of Vitamin D, an essential vitamin for many neurological functions. That’s why many of us, myself included, experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) during winter.
As conversations around mental health become more open, we’ve seen a lot of advancements in SAD light therapy. However, there are many around-the-house jobs and LED light hacks you can do at home, too. Here is how to improve lighting in your home for some DIY SAD light therapy!
10 Light Therapy Hacks for Seasonal Affective Disorder
We can do many things on both a small and large scale to improve the lighting in our homes.
For some, these tips will include lifestyle changes, such as light therapy. Others might require a little construction work. Then, some tips are as simple as getting a plant.
There is something in this list for everybody, regardless of health conditions or income. No matter where we are on these spectrums, little changes in our daily lifestyle can make everyday struggles a little easier to bear.
1. Go Outside for Natural Sunlight
Let’s start with the cheapest and easiest Seasonal Affective Disorder light therapy hack. Natural sunlight!
Unless you live in areas in Alaska where natural sunlight is unavailable for up to 62 days, there will always be an opportunity to get some Vitamin D. Take those opportunities whenever you can.
There are so many benefits to fresh air and sun. Even if the temperatures are cold, bundle up, and head outside even for a little while! Look up at the sun and bask in its benefits.
As you acclimate to the cold weather, try exposing your skin in different areas of the body for as long as you feel comfortable. Our skin converts ultraviolet rays into Vitamin D3. When you are bundled up and outside for short periods, you might not reach your daily recommended intake of Vitamin D.
There was a recent meta-analysis of Vitamin D requirements during seasonal changes. Experts concluded that we need up to two hours of sunlight during the winter to meet our bodies’ needs.
Two hours is a lot of time! That’s almost impossible for people who live in moderate temperatures, let alone frigid ones.
Bank as much sun as you can during the winter hours. Then, supplement with a high-quality supplement that is enriched with Vitamin D3.
Tranquility Labs’ Tranquilene is enriched with Vitamin D3 to help bring balance to our neural system. This all-natural supplement is also fortified with tryptophan and niacinamide.
These three critical ingredients are all catalysts for serotonin production. Serotonin is essential for regulating our mood, which is prone to become somber for those with SAD.
In addition to going outside and using Tranquilene, you should try some of these other SAD light therapy hacks. They will help you get through the long winter with a more balanced emotional state.
2. Get a Skylight
Perhaps, the best way to improve lighting in your home is to get a skylight. Skylights allow natural sunlight to penetrate down into your room.
Since it’s bursting from above, its rays can sprawl out upon entering the room. This access point allows the sun rays to cover more ground. Plus, you might not get blinded by its bright rays like you might if you were to set up your office in front of a window.
3. Install Lighting Fixtures and Get Lamps
If getting a skylight at this time of the year isn’t feasible, or the project itself isn’t in the budget, you should still ponder more overhead lighting.
Everything from new bathroom lighting fixtures to a lamp by the beside can increase your light intake. Invest in a “happylight” or light therapy lamps designed to simulate sunlight. Consider getting recessed lighting fixtures. That way, you can get equal lighting throughout the room.
Plus, you can control how much light you receive. After all, you don’t want to go overboard with too much light late at night. Excessive amounts of artificial lighting after sundown can throw off your natural sleep patterns.
On days you encounter too much lighting, you can help facilitate a healthy sleep cycle by using a fast-acting melatonin spray, such as Tranquility Labs’ Sleep Fast +.
4. Paint Your Rooms a Lighter Color
If there isn’t any sun to bring the light, then make light happen. Add a pop of color to your rooms.
Dark colors absorb light from ceiling light fixtures or the sun beaming through the window.
Go for brighter and cooler hues, such as:
- Pale Yellow
- Mint Green
These colors reflect light directed from kitchen light fixtures or natural sunlight in your bedroom. You’ll feel more sunlight in your space, which can support a healthy mental state.
If you want to turn the dial to maximum, you can opt for brighter greens, shades of red, or yellow. However, these colors can make small spaces feel more confined.
For someone who likes solitude and needs more sunlight after the winter solstice, that’s fine. However, people who experience claustrophobia might want a less bold tone.
5. Clean Windows
I know that we usually wait until the spring to get the cleaning done. However, many of us are working from home. Long commutes and long office hours are no longer an excuse!
We can pencil in more time to do chores around the house. One of the most cost-efficient ways to improve lighting in your home is by cleaning the windows.
Window film can block ultraviolet rays from penetrating the glass and your skin. Adding a little elbow grease to your window treatment allows more natural sunlight indoors.
One study on daylight and office productivity found that natural sunlight improved cognitive function, working memory, inhibition, and decreased eye strain risk!
Plus, natural sunlight kills bacteria in household dust. These potential pathogens can cause immune responses that may impact your mood or overall health.
Lastly, open the blinds and curtains in every room first thing in the morning. That way, you are greeted by sunlight every time you enter a new room.
6. Hang Mirrors
You don’t need to be vain to hang mirrors all over your house. However, they might help with your confidence due to a Vitamin D boost!
Mirrors reflect sunlight back into the room. So, if you’re sitting on a Zoom call, your skin and eyes will be greeted by UV rays that get converted into Vitamin D3.
Sometimes you don’t want the distraction of your own reflection, especially if you’re scrubbing it in sweats. In these instances, use a convex mirror. Also known as a fish-eye mirror, its shape amplifies the light more efficiently. So, you get to take the mirror down sooner.
Another excellent option is a gallery of small mirrors. You will be less distracted by fractions of yourself in your peripheral than your whole body. Plus, it’s a very modern deco option!
7. Trim Branches
Shining up your windows and putting up mirrors is meaningless if your sun doesn’t make it to them! Make sure that you trim any branches that can block the line of sight between you and the sun.
Maintaining your branches and trimming shrubs can also force you outdoors. Having reasons to go outside naturally improves your Vitamin D intake.
Plus, interacting with nature can help boost your mood naturally. There is plenty of research that shows trees can cause people to feel calmer.
In fact, one study involving 585 young Japanese adults found that trees improved feelings of:
8. Get Some Plant Therapy
Plant therapy reaps many rewards. We keep the plant alive, and it beautifies and purifies the air.
Plants do more than just provide us with oxygen and look pretty on a desk. They also create a subconscious bond between us and sunlight.
Try to pick indoor plants that thrive with little natural sunlight and in cooler temperatures, such as:
- Spathiphyllum – Peace Lily (Perfect for Grieving a Loved One Over Holidays)
- Aloe Vera
You can tell which area of each room gets the most natural sunlight by where your plant is facing. Seeing their reaction to the sun can encourage you to step outdoors for some fresh Vitamin D.
9. Feng Shui
Feng Shui is more than just rearranging your furniture. It’s about taking inventory of our lifestyle and creating a more functional and healthy existence.
Look around your quarters and see where your light fixtures are. Also, take note of where your natural sunlight filters into the room. Is there anything blocking these light sources?
- Perhaps you have a lamp in the living room that’s blocked by a huge couch?
- Are you using light-blocking curtains over the windows?
- Do you have dirty globes around your ceiling light fixtures?
Find ways to optimize light in your house. Along the way, get rid of some clutter that no longer serves your purpose. By seeking more light and letting go of unneeded items, you can accomplish two therapeutic feats in one experience.
10. Light Therapy
One of the fastest-growing methods of treating Seasonal Affective Disorder is red light therapy. This treatment involves a person sitting within a small distance of a light therapy box. The light must indirectly enter your eyes at a specific intensity for a certain amount of time.
An average Seasonal Affective Disorder light therapy session includes:
- Using a 10,000 Lux Light Therapy Box
- Placed 16-24 Inches from Your Face
- Every Day for 20-30 Minutes
If you are using a 2,500 lux red light therapy box, it might take a little longer. Be sure to research accordingly, talk to your physician, and journal your process. Note what works best for you so that you can optimize the experience with these LED light hacks.
How to Improve Lighting in Your Home
There are many little things that you can do to improve your Seasonal Affective Disorder light therapy routine. With the winter solstice behind us, natural sunlight is few and far between. Get as much as you can by trimming branches, cleaning your windows, and Feng Shui.
Offset the lack of Vitamin D3 you receive with mood-boosting supplements like Tranquility Lab’s Tranquilene. This all-natural supplement is the perfect complement to a light therapy session.
Increase or optimize the ceiling light fixtures in your house. You and your new plant friends will thank you!
- You must make time to take in natural sunlight
- Use LED hacks like a light therapy box or upgrading your light fixtures
- Optimize your living quarters by trimming branches, cleaning windows, and Feng Shui