Lightbox time

I’ve alluded on this blog before to the fact that as autumn comes on I use a lightbox. Well, lightbox time is well and truly here. About 10 days or so I took it down from the cupboard where it lies hibernating for the spring and summer and set it up on my desk. 10000 lux await me every morning and blaze out on my right hand side as I begin to look at e-mails or write a blog post.

I’ve been using the box at this time of year for six or seven years and would not want to be without it at this latitude. Others who see it say that the can’t imagine sitting next to something so bright every day but I find myself hankering for it.

Here is what I’ve found:

  • you can do other things whilst using a lightbox eg work at computer
  • it really does ward off the feeling that the sky is going to fall down
  • it needs to be over 40 minutes a day to make a difference for me
  • I prefer it to sit slightly to my right than either centrally or to the left (brain hemispheres?)
  • after a few weeks of it I’ll need a break from it (head gets a bit buzzy)
  • I don’t need it nearly as much after the winter solstice as before – part of the trouble is the natural light going away each day

Whenever I say out loud that I use a lightbox in autumn/winter, I find that other people I know also use bright light too. Others ask me what type I use. The answer is a Philips lightbox that came from Boots. Cost me about £200 when I got it and seemed ludicrously expensive at the time but has proved to be cheap and effective therapy over the years. Don’t mess about with daylight flavoured lightbulbs. Its the brightness of the light that makes a difference, not the colour of the light that matters most.

Oh, and if you are just fed up all the year round, lightbox tricks in the autumn are not for you. This one is strictly seasonal.

Extra Sunshine

Unless I take steps to cope with it, I’m someone who is inclined to get the winter blues. I realised a number of years ago after returning to Scotland from London that I was tending to get very run down in the autumn. Couldn’t shake of infections and generally felt a bit limp.

At the time, I went off to my doctor who, after a four minute consultation, wanted me to take happy pills. At the time, that made me rather cross, and I started to look around for other possible things to try. I settled on a Philips Bright Light, and ever since then, I dig it out at this time of the year and bask in its light during the morning. It sits by my computer screen and shines forth for half an hour or so whilst I do my morning e-mails or write a blog entry.

This week is the first week this year that I’ve used it properly, and I suspect I should have started a fortnight or so ago at the equinox.

It is very bright. Lots of people say that they could never sit in front of it like I do. After a few weeks, it seems to make my head a bit buzzy and the answer is to take a few days off.

It is one of those things which I think more people in Scotland should know about. It is a relatively easy non-invasive cure to something that I think affects a lot of people here. It used to feel in the autumn as though I had an allergy to Caledonia. All I needed was a daily boost of extra light to keep me perky.