Summertime Blues: Shed Light on Depression
So Summertime is here. The days are getting longer and the nights shorter. Before we know it, it will be the longest day of the year. A bright sunny Summer’s day can put a spring in our steps and a smile on our faces, so every drop of Summer sunshine is liquid gold to us. But did you know it can affect our moods at a deeper level too? In fact, a lack of light exposure has been linked to Depression. In this post we explore how you can use summertime daylight to help banish those Summertime Blues and benefit your mental health.
The Irish combination of dull weather and the latitude of the island, leads to a lack of light during the long autumn and winter months which can be a problem for many Irish people who suffer with depression. So whilst we can take steps to minimise this risk during the colder months, there are plenty of opportunities over the summer to ensure we make the most of longer daylight hours and help lower our depression risk.
- It’s important for your brain to register light in the morning – so make sure your bedroom fills with light as the sun rises, no blackout blinds! Hospital stays for depression patients have been found to be three days shorter for those whose windows face the rising sun.
- Get out in the light every day if you can, walk to the shops or to work and get outside for your lunch break.
- Try to get a work area that faces the morning or daytime sun, whether at home or in the workplace. Alternatively use a bright light desk lamp.
- Put bright full spectrum bulbs in your overhead lighting at home and use it in the mornings. (Do not use these lights in the evenings – switch to muted low level table lamps instead).
- Don’t wear sunglasses (unless required for safety reasons). Sunglasses, particularly those with yellow lenses, reduce the light intensity reaching the eyes.
- For Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), sometimes known as winter depression, consider doing light therapy every morning from October through to March, although depression sufferers can try it any time of the year, as recommended by the American Psychiatric Association. Make sure you get good advice on buying and using the equipment. It is also now possible to rent light boxes in Ireland.
- Get your Vitamin D levels checked by your doctor, low levels are a marker for insufficient sunlight. Getting out in the fresh air as much as you can in summertime can boost your Vitamin D levels.
- Seasonal foods make it easier to get more of those important vitamins & minerals in your diet.
- Increase your exercise activity. Go for more walks. Take a swim in the sea. Take a hike. Try out a new Watersport or Adventure Activity. The endorphins released when we exercise are known to have a beneficial impact on our moods.
- Use technology to your advantage – fitness and activity tracker apps are a great way to motivate yourself to take the steps you need to boost your exercise activities.
So, in the battle with depression always try and let as much light into your environment as you can during the day and get outdoors and into the sunlight as much as you can. Oh, and always use a high SPF Suncream too!
To quote Martin Luther King – “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that…”
You may also be interested in our short video on understanding Depression or our free to download Self Help Guide on Depression & Low Mood