Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s triggered by the change in seasons. Per the American Psychiatric Association, it affects roughly 5 percent of U.S. adults. Even if you aren’t officially diagnosed with SAD, it’s common to feel down in the winter months. Luckily, one way to perk up, per Barbara Nosal, Ph.D., chief clinical officer at Newport Academy, takes all of three seconds to try.
Right when you wake up, open your blinds.
Dr. Nosal says that spending time outside helps regulate hormones and neurotransmitters that have strong effects on mood, behavior and the body’s natural rhythmic patterns. You can also reap the positive effects of sunlight by filling your living and working spaces with natural light. So before you sprint to the kitchen to make coffee in the morning, make sure to throw open all of your curtains and blinds.
For all those cloudy days, consider investing in a light therapy box (like this one from Verilux), which gives off light that mimics natural sunlight. Dr. Nosal says that this “naturally stimulates the body’s circadian rhythms and suppresses the release of melatonin.” She adds that exposing yourself to natural light for about 30 minutes a day has been found to be beneficial for those with SAD. Done and done.
This gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “lighten up.”