I’ve written before about light therapy in the dark days of winter, and in fact I’ve got my own UpLift light turned on right now, above my desk.

The shorter days and less sunlight that we get with the approach of winter just play havoc with the brain chemistry of the majority of people living far far from the equator, like us Canadians. (Me, I get lazy and stupid. Or that’s what it feels like. And feeling lazy and stupid has a way of making one feel somewhat depressed, not surprisingly.)

Now, the reason I’m bringing up all this about using light to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder and depression (again) is two-fold. It’s because

1. Our first snowfall of the season has just happened, just this morning;

2. Bellacor, “the largest online retailer of lighting products,” just sent a rather useful press release about how lighting can help those “winter blues.”

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Most people never realize the amount of light they get affects their mood, emotions and productivity. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, can cause depression, insomnia, fatigue and lowered immunity to colds and diseases. It is commonly treated with light therapy, increasing exposure to bright and full-spectrum light to alleviate these symptoms.While most people may not experience extreme depression during winter months, many may still feel some effects. Studies have shown that simply a change to the color and intensity of light affects a person’s mood and emotions, as well as non-visual processes such as physical performance and mental tasks.

Yes, I can attest to that.

I can tell you firsthand that increasing the amount and intensity of the lighting does helps.

Getting outdoors will help even more, mind you, but that’s not always possible when deadlines have me tied to the computer indoors… and it’s bloody freezing cold out… and ‘ve got the sniffles… and there’s not that much sunlight outside in the dark winter months in any case… So, ramping up the artificial light is a good way to get an essential boost.

Here are some practical suggestions from the good folks at Bellacor that make good sense to anyone who’s spent time huddled up here in the Great White North:

• Use a dimmer switch to make it easier to change light levels. As the hours of sunlight shorten, a room can be made brighter with just a touch.• Changing the bulb color in a fixture can make a big difference. Swapping out “warm” bulbs to the clear light of “cool” bulbs will make a space brighter.

• Take into account how much natural light is in a room when selecting lighting fixtures and bulb intensity. A dim room will need brighter bulbs, while a room with more windows may be fine with less-intense bulbs.

• Using layered lighting is a great technique for home lighting, such as combining general background lighting from ceiling fixtures with focused task lighting from table or floor lamps.

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