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Light box that says "have a break"

The time of year is upon us where the sun is setting between 4:30pm and 5:30pm. It can really take a toll on us mentally and physically. In October, fellow blogger Misty Harmon shared a personal story about experiencing the winter blues in Fall: A SAD Time of Year. She went on to share the symptoms, risk factors and treatments associated with seasonal affective disorder (SAD). One of those treatment options is light therapy. Research shows that light therapy is a highly effective addition to a person’s treatment routine. For some individuals who experience milder symptoms of SAD, light therapy may be sufficient.

How do light boxes work?

The purpose of a therapy light box is to mimic outdoor light to create a chemical change in your brain. The theory behind the box is that it will lift and lighten your mood easing other symptoms of SAD. In order for light boxes to be beneficial, they need to provide a certain amount of lighting. Lighting requirements are usually measured in units called lux. The light boxes need to have an exposure of 10,000 lux of light and emit as little UV light as possible.

When is the best time to use a light box?

The best time to use a light box is within the first hour of waking up in the morning. A person should sit about 16 to 24 inches away from the light with their eyes open for 20 to 30 minutes. Please do not look directly at the light. When you purchase a light box, make sure it is specifically designed for treating SAD. You can find a list here.

If you or someone you know is experiencing SAD, I would encourage you to try a light box. It might just make this Christmas a little brighter.

Writer: Amanda Bohlen, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County, bohlen.19@osu.edu

Reviewer: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu

Sources:

Harmon, M. (2019, October 21). Fall: A SAD Time of Year. Retrieved from https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/10/21/fall-a-sad-time-of-year/

Leister, J. (2019, December). Lighten Up this December. Retrieved from https://osuhealthplan.com/content/lighten-december?utm_source=osu_health_plan_yp4h&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=201903_corp_myhealth&utm_content=20191212

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