Need A Mood Boost? 3 Simple Ways To Optimize Light For More Energy
It's getting dark earlier, y'all. In fact, this weekend marks the end of daylight saving time—so if your sleep schedule has been suffering, we feel you.
For those struggling with the winter blues (which actually peaks during autumn!), psychiatrist Norman Rosenthal, M.D., recommends optimizing your light exposure however you can. "What are the things I need in order to make my life good? They're often ordinary things that we don't fully appreciate," he shares on the mindbodygreen podcast. Below, he offers some "ordinary" tips to drink in more precious, natural light:
Clean & declutter your windows
It sounds simple, but you'd be surprised by how much the dust and haze can obstruct the light in your home. "We don't realize the extent to which our houses have become dark by winter," Rosenthal explains. "The hedges have overgrown the windows and need to be trimmed back, the windows have developed a layer of grime from the summer, which needs to be cleaned off…"
Similarly, make space around your windowsill for as much light to filter through as possible. You might have candles, a stack of books, or various knickknacks displayed on the sill during spring and summer—but in the colder months, we need as much light as we can get.
Repaint your walls
This likely takes more time than cleaning your windows, but according to Rosenthal, a fresh coat of paint can work wonders for your mood. Especially if you choose a bright, happy hue: "Have at least one room that's your 'bright room,'" he shares. Adorn the walls with a light coat of paint to enhance the soothing or energizing space.
As a general rule: Nurturing shades (think light blues, grays, pinks, and soft earth tones) create a calming atmosphere, while brighter colors (like a sunny yellow) can stimulate the mind. "We interact with color constantly—knowingly and unknowingly. It's such a beautiful, powerful tool that we all have that we kind of forget about and take for granted," color therapist Walaa AlMuhaiteeb once shared with mbg.
That said, if you want to enter a room and feel energized, you might consider adding small pops of brighter colors to that area. Make designing this room a fun activity you look forward to—that can further help rewrite the narrative of those winter blues.
Upgrade your lighting
"You're going to need to get some extra light fixtures if you haven't got [them] already, or if you've got them, but they're old and the light bulbs are out of date, they may need to be replaced," says Rosenthal.
You may think your lights work just fine, but it's easy for your brain to become adjusted to dingy lighting—you might be shocked by how much brighter your space seems after a quick bulb change.
Rosenthal also recommends relying on light therapy via sun lamps to help brighten your mood. "When you sit in front of a bright light, you can see an effect within minutes—certainly by an hour," he notes.
Winter is coming, so optimize your light exposure with Rosenthal's low-lift tips above. A few simple tweaks can make a significant difference in your mood, and it's best to make these arrangements as early as you can. "Prepare for winter when you don't need to," he shares. Then the upcoming blues might not feel as daunting.
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and more. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.