hibernate, light, seasonal blues, solstice, sunshine, tired, transformation, winter
Can’t think of a simpler yet more profound title to this last blog post of 2014. WOW what a year it’s been! Transforming is the best way to describe it. Everything except where I live and the car I drive has pretty much changed in my life…and all for the better. New job. New, improved body (at last count I’m down nearly 54 lbs – 24 kg – since July 2013). A healthier outlook on life both how I take care of myself mentally and how I fuel my body with nutritious food. Incredible new relationships…lots of friendships and a wonderful romantic one too. I simply couldn’t be happier right now and am ready to embrace 2015 full on!
So how fitting is it to wrap up the year with a post about LIGHT. What we crave this time of year so hungrily…yeah, we’re past the Winter Solstice and it’s been gloriously sunny (and cold!) the last few days. Slowly we’re pulling away from that dreaded “get up and go to work in the dark / go home in the dark” rhythm that can drive us crazy.
I recently got intrigued with light therapy. I’m not officially SAD diagnosed, but I do notice the blahs and blues sometimes when the weather is crappy and it’s rainy and dark like it is so often in the Seattle area this time of year. It’s like living in a soggy black and white TV! So when it’s nice out and not raining torrentially it’s time to bundle up and get out there (where are my rubber boots??). No excuses.
And I’m getting up for work about an hour and a half earlier than I used to. Keep in mind, getting up later was a well-ingrained habit of nearly a dozen years. So snapping into a 5:45am wake up time – a time probably more normal than not for many of us out there – has been a challenge for me to get used to. Combine that with shorter, darker days and it’s been, well, challenging. And for those of you who follow along in here, you know I’m not a morning person by nature. I’m just not wired that way. Shhh don’t tell my new co-workers. Faking it (and a little extra coffee in the a.m.) works wonders.
So, I recently picked up a couple of light therapy devices thanks to the nice people at Amazon.com. Take a look!
This is a blue light sunshine simulator from Philips (check out the link in the paragraph above). This beauty mimics the sunshine we crave on those bright, sunny, cloudless days. What I like about it is you can adjust how long the light sessions last as well as how bright the light is. You don’t (and shouldn’t) look directly into it. Rather, I just keep it at an angle (like the pic; there’s a kickstand included) and about 18 – 20″ away from me on my bathroom countertop while I dry my hair, get dressed and put on my makeup. My session runs 45 minutes and it shuts itself off automatically (but you can set it to run between 1 and 60 minutes as you need). It also comes with a protective cover, and it’s small enough for travel.
Next up is the Philips wake up alarm with sunrise simulation. It kind of looks like a headlight yanked out of a car, but it has a nice flat surface so it won’t roll around. I ditched my c. 2003 clock radio/CD player and started using this instead. It’s fantastic! The light simulates an actual sunrise, starting a deep, rich orange and slowly shifting to yellows and whites. And you can add a soothing wake up sound too (or just wake up to the sunrise). It’s fully customizable which is wonderful. You can choose how long the sunrise takes and how loud the music plays (or find the FM radio station you love). Learning the controls is a little tricky at first, but once you do it a few times it’s pretty straight forward. Want to snooze? Just tap anywhere on the light surface and 9 more minutes is yours.
I also like how a lot of the menu buttons don’t light up until you get your fingers near them. Anyone else out there get annoyed with those glaring numbers and letters when you’re trying to sleep? And amazingly, the orange clock readout in the pic above is proven to be the least glaring in the dark…and the intensity will adjust depending on how much natural light is around it. So when you’re trying to sleep, the clock readout is a nice, soft peachy glow.
Sweet dreams…glorious mornings…and Happy New Year, everyone!