Save Green: Saving Light

Winter morning sunIt’s a month after solstice and the days are getting longer, but there is less distraction of holiday twinkle lights. The darkness of winter becomes more apparent.

Long before winter blues becomes clinically diagnosed Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), you can take steps to keep yourself and your children healthy—and it doesn’t take a $200 light box to do it.

What is the most important remedy for lack of sunlight? Sunlight.


Active, Beautiful Nature Is the Answer

Without enough sunlight, your body has to work much harder to regulate your body clock, your circadian rhythms. And, your body needs sunlight in order to make Vitamin D. You skin doesn’t need so much sun that it burns. You just need regular, direct exposure to the sun. Light boxes that simulate bright sunlight are used as therapy for SAD. They work a lot like that big light outside, except that they plug in, so they run on ancient sunlight and other forms of electricity.

For some people, exposure to even slightly higher levels of light can be a mood lifter. It helps if the light exposure happens early in the day. An expensive mood-altering gadget that addresses this need is a dawn simulator (about $100-150). Think of it as an alarm clock that wakes you by gradually turning on the lights. It works a lot like sleeping on the east side of the house, leaving the blinds open at night, and letting the sunrise wake you.

Natural concentrations of negative ions, pounding surf at the beach or a wild rainstorm, can also help you feel better. There is another therapeutic toy available for $25-100 dollars, a negative ion generator, but doesn’t a storm sound more refreshing? We associate it with feeling refreshed because it works. A trip to the beach helps your mood because of the negative ions, the sunlight, and stirring up the general emotional stagnancy of a long winter indoors.

In all of these cases, long before winter blues escalates to full-blown depression, I’m wondering why people aren’t opting for the cheap, natural way.

  • Walk out to winter and greet the sun.
  • Open your blinds at night and let the actual dawn wake you.
  • Go for an early morning walk.
  • For breakfast, eat eggs and milk (both with tryptophan) in a sunny room.
  • Expose yourself to negative ions by going to the beach or opening your door to a storm.

It all seems so obvious, but there is no money to be made in encouraging you to open your windows and doors and get outside. The profit margin is in the light box and the dawn simulator, in the drugs and even in the bottle of St. John’s Wort.


Avoid the Stagnant

Stagnant—stagnant air, stagnant water, stagnant emotion— is not good for your health.

Have a laugh. Exercise. Run up and down the stairs. Shake things up and walk out to winter.


Today is day #16 of my new Save Green Habit: run the stairs every day.

And, suddenly it isn’t difficult. I find myself running upstairs (just once, just for the practical purpose of getting there) without even taking a deep breath. I can make it a dozen times before I notice that my legs hurt so much that I want to fall. It’s an incline of 35%, which is an awful lot more than the 10% incline on the treadmill I’m avoiding, so I feel good about my progress.

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