Why I’m Starting My Light Therapy Sessions Earlier This Year

A hand reaching up to touch a bright lightbulbI am not a doctor, and this post is not intended to be taken as medical advice. Please talk to your healthcare provider to see if light therapy lamps are right for you.

Last winter I talked about how much light therapy helps me with my winter blues.

When I stopped using it during our sunniest months here in Ontario, I wondered when I should start up again but decided to defer that decision until autumn.

This spring and summer were filled with the glorious light that lifts my mood every year. Like life for almost everyone else on Earth, they were also filled with the cancellation of many long-anticipated events thanks to Covid-19.

I smiled and made the best of the outdoor, physically-distanced activities that were still safe to do, but with autumn coming up I wondered how my mental health would fare once it was cold and dark here once again.

This isn’t meant to sound like a complaint, by the way. Cancelling all of those festivals, parades, and events was absolutely the right thing to do from a public health perspective. I’m also grateful for my good physical health, safe home, and all of the other advantages I have that so many others do not.

And yet there is also something sad about missing out on almost everything you love about spring and summer only to begin the plunge into another long, dark cold season. This became even more true as I read about the cancellation of Halloween on Church and our mayor discussing the possibility of cancelling trick-or-treating as well. My favourite holiday will either be cancelled altogether or is going to be nothing at all like it was in the past.

At this point, I suspect every upcoming holiday will be celebrated virtually, within the same household (or small social bubble), or not at all until enough people have been vaccinated against this disease to stop it in its tracks.

There’s nothing I can do to change things like these. What I could do was start using my light therapy lamp earlier this month as soon as the first faint whispers of autumn appeared in the form of dark, cloudy days.

A blue lamp that is turned on and releasing light against a plain white wall. I’d forgotten how bright it was. That one little lamp fills the whole room with light and still has some left over to spare.It doesn’t emit heat the way the sun does when you’re outside on a bright summer day, but it otherwise feels something similar to that experience.

(Yes, I purposefully picked photos of dimmer lights for this post. I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s eyes).

It’s still a little too early for me to feel the effects of it, but that also means it should start working long before November arrives and we start seeing sunsets before 5 pm.

What creative ways are you planning to celebrate upcoming holidays?  If you also have a light therapy lamp, when did or will you begin using it this year?

4 Responses to Why I’m Starting My Light Therapy Sessions Earlier This Year

  1. Lydia,

    Hallowe’en is my favourite holiday, too, and I also have been wondering what will happen when it swings around. At least it’s a day when people are supposed to wear masks…

    Like you, I fully support the cancellation of festivals and fairs and other gatherings. In fact, I wish people here in the U.S. would gather less. But also like you, I mourn the necessity. I’m pretty introverted and shy, so in some ways, staying home works for me, but it also makes it too easy for me to over-do the isolation. As you say, “there is also something sad about missing out on almost everything you love about spring and summer only to begin the plunge into another long, dark cold season.” It makes me think of my bonsai trees. They soak up sun during the summer and hang out with the other plants in the garden, let the smaller spiders camp in their branches, get the feel of the wind of the wind in their hair, and that gets them through the months they spend looking out the window of the bedroom. And yes, I do like to anthropomoriphise things.

    I have been thinking about the holidays. My kids are, by necessity and choice, out in the world more than is safe for me and my health conditions. Isolating for a couple weeks to make sure they aren’t carrying the virus before coming home will be almost impossible. Especially for one of them, that time would eat up all her vacation days. I miss them terribly.

    I don’t use light therapy. My depression (like my allergies) is committed to being equal-opportunity. But, like you, I try to remember all the aspects of my life for which I should be grateful. But more and more, I’m finding gratitude is not the same as happiness.

    • You always leave the most thorough comments, Ruth! Thank you for that.

      I really liked your story about your bonsai trees. We all seem to have a lot in common in certain ways, huh?

      Sorry to hear you won’t be able to see your kids for the holidays. That must be really hard.

      Sending you hugs (if you like them).

  2. I’m comforted in the fact that even the Black Death didn’t last forever, and it was worse than this. Even the 1918 flu was worse than this. We’ll get through this.

    I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve been able to visit both my family and my husband’s family since this has started, despite our state of unemployment. I feel especially bad for the people who have family members in the hospital they can’t visit, people who had weddings planned, and extroverts.

    The holidays will definitely be a little less bright this year, right? But I guess, historically, people have been through seasons where times were tough before too. Like during World Wars I and II, the Great Depression, etc.

    Hope your light therapy helps you through the upcoming cold months!

    • Thank you very much!

      But, yes, it does help to think of how people coped in the past. This definitely isn’t the first time we’ve dealt with adversity as a species. 🙂

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