Let the light in
Let the light in
Mary Jackson, Director of Education & Training, LawCare
So many of us, in the depths of winter, are now getting most of our light artificially from screens and desk-lamps. The shorter days of light drain us of energy, meaning some of us will suffer from seasonal lethargy, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and depression.
Over the next few months it’s more important than ever to let the light in and get outside as much as possible. Bright morning light can advance our circadian rhythms and suppresses melatonin – having an antidepressant effect. Being outside has a therapeutic effect, sunlight helps the body produce the immune-boosting Vitamin D, and also helps us breathe more deeply, get more oxygen into our lungs and chase away the stress hormones of adrenaline and cortisol. We may wake up a bit grumpy, feeling the winter blues but as the day progresses we can begin to feel happier, especially if we have been outside.
Humans have always known the importance of light to wellbeing. The light we get from the sun, our best known star in the sky is crucial to survival. Celtic people believed they came out of darkness into light and in a sense we all do as we are born into this world. Florence Nightingale instinctively knew that her patients needed light, air and a view - science now confirms that patients get better quicker if these are available to them. In 2013 a bookkeeper Oscar Kittilsen came up with the idea of erecting large, rotatable mirrors on the northern side of the valley in Gaustatoppen, Norway what are called “solspeilet”, sun mirrors. Until then the residents spent half the year in the dark. Just like sunflowers he wanted to direct light to the people.
We spend so much time indoors these days, so here are our tips to help you get out as much as you can this winter.
Top tips for letting the light in
- Make sure you have appropriate outdoor clothes – if you’re warm and waterproof you’re ready for any weather!
- Take a lunch break and get into the light whatever the weather. It doesn’t have to be an hour, or even at lunch time if that doesn’t suit your working pattern, but try to get out in daylight hours wherever possible. You will always feel better for going outside.
- Open your curtains and window in the morning even for just a few minutes to let a blast of cold air in.
- Try and work near a window if you can, move your desk if necessary or hotdesk round the house.
- If you have a garden or balcony go outside a few times a day for a few deep breaths of fresh air.
- Take work calls/meetings outside where possible, if there’s no reason you can’t be walking and talking.
- Make a plan to get out every weekend – visit parks, gardens, countryside and beaches. Going outside and being in nature can reduce your anxiety and stress. There is scientific evidence that we feel calmer when we look at trees for example.
- Get a SAD light which replicates daylight and can boost your mood.
- Put fairy lights up, light candles, practice the Danish tradition of hygge at home to get through the long winter months. When darkness is illuminated by a few little flickering lights it seems more bearable.
- Take a Vitamin D supplement. Experts recommend everyone does in winter and this winter it’s even more important.
As the Celts believe, out of darkness and death comes light and life. We will come into the light once again.
Real stories of people in the legal community who have experienced stress, depression, anxiety and more.