Some of you are beginning to get a bit freaked out that the sun is starting to set at 7:30pm.
No more summer cocktails on the patio or fresh-air activities with the kids after work. This darkness makes us want to make a beeline to our caves (a.k.a beautifully Feng Shui-ed homes).
I actually didn’t even pay any attention to this seasonal phenomena until a friend mentioned it. Don’t hate me, but I’m one of those people who is barely effected by the weather. Sunny is always good, cloudy and rainy is romantic and snowy is fun! Ok, you can hate me now. Which got me thinking – different people have different lighting quotients.
Let’s take a look at how you can introduce more light not only in your physical outer space but also to your internal home – your mind, body and spirit – as we approach the darker seasons.
S.A.D. or Seasonal Affective Disorder, is very real. When you are affected, the winter months you may experience severe lethargy, debilitating depression and sleep issues.
Here are some ways to help alleviate the dampening effects of the season:
1) Early bird gets the worm – Get out earlier in the day to take advantage of natural light. Go for a run, take a walk, just get outside earlier to literally charge your battery.
2) Lamps are your friends – If getting out early is not possible or enough, you can try Light therapy which involves using a lamp to help compensate for the shorter days. Of course as a designer, I found this beautiful lamp from Kubo. There are many other lamps that are smaller and less expensive but if you can afford it, why not splurge and start uplifting your energy even before you turn the lamp on?
3) Lighten your palette – Change your dark sheets, bedcover and curtains to lighter colors such as white, beige or pastels. Stop wearing black and defy all fashion code by wearing white or lighter colors. I know it sounds counter intuitive but visual references are very powerful and you can trick your mind into feeling lighter by “seeing” lighter.
4) Invite Light into your Inner World – As a Feng Shui Coach, I am always seeking to align your inner and outer worlds. Bringing light into your physical space can be as easy as buying a lamp on Amazon. But, bringing light into your inner world can be more challenging. One way to lighten up your inner world is to embrace your darkness by adding in love. Renowned author and speaker Michael Ellsberg generously shares his insight on this matter in his recording Loving the Unlovable. It’s a longerish recording (almost 2 hours long), but commit to listen to his words of wisdom, because you will realize that when you love the unlovable, “love becomes the overpowering note or dominant flavor.” By allowing the dark to be present, allows love and light to naturally flow in. I touch upon this idea in this blog post, Finding the Comfort in the Discomfort.
So go ahead and start doing all the fun colder weather activities – drinking hot chocolate with marshmallows, meeting friends by fireplaces – but when you feel the darkness creeping in, know you have choices for both your inner and outer worlds. The light is always there, it’s just for us to uncover. Now pass the marshmallows, will ya?
Thank you for your monthly newsletter and blog post. I practice Feng Shui as an amateur and I find them very interesting and useful.
As one who suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder, I was glad to see you acknowledge it in your recent blog post. You are fortunate that you don’t feel its effects. However, since you don’t feel its effects I think you may tend to minimize its impact on sufferers lives. May I suggest that you add a few lines to your post explaining that just adding any old lamp(s) or light fixtures around the house is not usually sufficient to really improve SAD depression.
For real therapeutic effect, a typical sufferer needs a daily period of at least a half hour of direct exposure to a full spectrum light that provides at least 10,000 Lux of brightness. This treatment should occur as early in the day as possible. Some sufferers need even more exposure.
For more complete information about SAD and its treatment, I suggest the book Winter Blues by Norman E. Rosenthal, MD. Dr. Rosenthal is the researcher who first identified the SAD syndrome and he has done the most research into the effective treatments for it. It’s available from Sunbox.com (the pioneer in light therapy appliances) or from Amazon or at most major book stores.
Thank you Richard for your insight. My disclaimer should have been “I am not a S.A.D. expert”, therefore I am grateful that you stepped in to add your experience and expertise. I’m sure many people will benefit from what you shared. Wishing us a very short winter season this year!