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So many of us, in the depths of winter and lockdown, are now getting most of our light artificially from screens and desk-lamps. We are missing all the ways in which we used to be outside without even thinking about it - the commute, the school run, travelling to meetings, and our running errands. We’re missing the kicking of dry leaves or the squelching of wet ones, the raising of umbrellas, or the view of sunrise, sunset from train /car windows . 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, especially now we are all in lockdown, so here are our tips to help you get out as much as you can this winter.
Top tips for letting the light in
As the Celts believe, out of darkness and death comes light and life. We will come into the light once again.
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