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How Lighting In Your Home Can Help Relieve Or Lead To Anxiousness

Jamie Schneider
mbg Beauty & Wellness Editor
By Jamie Schneider
mbg Beauty & Wellness Editor
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen, covering beauty and wellness. 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 Wyld Skincare.
Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN
Expert review by
Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN
mbg Vice President of Scientific Affairs
Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN is Vice President of Scientific Affairs at mindbodygreen. She received her bachelor's degree in Biological Basis of Behavior from the University of Pennsylvania and Ph.D. in Foods and Nutrition from the University of Georgia.
Image by Studio Firma / Stocksy
October 28, 2021

Your home is your sanctuary—and for those working from home or spending a large slice of the day indoors, it's especially important to ensure your living-slash-office space makes you feel calm yet energized, relaxed yet productive. Sounds a bit oxymoronic, doesn't it? But according to functional medicine doctor Leland Stillman, M.D., on the mindbodygreen podcast, one home decor mistake can sabotage your WFH mindset: dim lighting. 

Sure, a candlelit room may sound incredibly soothing, if not spa-like, but it's not the best choice for powering through the day—in fact, it can even lead to feelings of anxiousness. Ahead, Stillman explains how your lighting environment can affect your mood, plus the best way to hack your bulbs for a calm state of mind. 

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How dim lighting can lead to anxiousness. 

Blue light gets a bad rap, but the thing is, you actually want that blue and green light exposure during the day to help regulate your natural sleep and wake cycle. Not to mention, that blue light helps boost alertness and can even elevate your mood. It's perhaps why people tend to experience more depressive feelings during the winter months when there is less light exposure. 

That said, Stillman notes, "I want you to get a certain amount of light in your eye, just to make sure you're having adequate energy coming into the body to time those rhythms and to set off that cascade of neurotransmitter and hormone release." But if you're sitting in a dimly lit room all day long? You might not be getting enough of those blue and green frequencies.

Stillman continues: "We frequently find that people who are struggling with [anxiousness] linked to neurotransmitter and hormone levels have a very dim environment during the day." He references a 2016 animal study from the journal Molecular Vision, which found that rats exposed to dim lighting during the day showed increased anxious behaviors and several indicators of HPA axis imbalance (reminder: The HPA axis is responsible for releasing our stress hormones). 

What to do about it. 

First order of business: Turn on the lights! "Let's be very strategic about the lighting in your office," says Stillman, be it your home office or shared company workspace. "Let's measure it, and then let's add certain lights in order to get you the frequencies that you need." You can use specific apps to measure the amount of light in your environment, like Lux Light Meter, and you can pick out full-spectrum lighting bulbs to help mimic the sun, if needed. 

Or if you live in a space with lots of natural light, that's great! Perhaps open the blinds to get that light exposure, or venture outdoors in the morning for a well-lit stroll. "Coffee on the terrace, a walk around the block, something that gets [you] into the brightest intensity of light in [your] environment," Stillman says. 

Then, of course, feel free to pull out all the stops for a relaxing workstation—clean-burning candles, desktop diffusers, and high-quality supplements designed to ease everyday stress and foster a positive mood.* (For what it's worth: Reviewers call our calm+ formula a yoga class in a gelcap.)* 

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The takeaway. 

TL;DR? Apparently, dim lighting can create a sense of anxiousness, especially if you're already prone to feelings of stress in your work environment. You can always open the blinds and let that glorious natural light come through—or you can pick bright color temperature bulbs to enhance the lighting. Call it grounds for that new swanky lamp. 

If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications, consult with your doctor before starting a supplement routine. It is always optimal to consult with a health care provider when considering what supplements are right for you.
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Jamie Schneider
Jamie Schneider
mbg Beauty & Wellness Editor

Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness 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 Wyld Skincare. 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 New York City.