On Mindfulness, Light Therapy Lamps, and Being a Human Houseplant

A desk lamp shining down on a houseplantMy name is Lydia, and I’m a human houseplant.

Or at least that’s what it feels like at this time of the year. You see, I get the winter blues. While other people are outside revelling in the snow, ice, and cold weather, I’m inside quietly counting down the days until spring.

If winter in Ontario included as many bright, sunny days as spring and summer did, this post might be quite different.

But our winters include months of long, dark nights that make me half-forget what it’s like to feel warm sunlight on my face.

And having access to enough bright light is important for my mental health. It boggles my mind that some people on this planet live in places that don’t see the sun for months on end. I wouldn’t be able to cope with that well at all unless someone invents a way for humans to go dormant for the winter like real plants do.

Luckily, there are light therapy lamps for wilted houseplants like myself. I’ve been basking in the glow of that artificial sunshine this winter.

Sometimes I sat there and surfed the Internet on my cell phone. It was an especially good way to pass the time when I first accepted the fact that I needed to use one of these lamps but was skeptical about if it would do any good.

If actual plants had opposable thumbs, they might look at cute animal pictures while soaking up light, too, so they didn’t have to count down how many weeks left until spring or how many weeks after that it will take the weather systems in Ontario to shift from cold, wet, and slushy to anything that bears the faintest resemblance to true spring weather.

Then it started to work.The sadness began to lessen. I could concentrate better, I felt less sluggish, my energy levels slowly began rising, and my quality of sleep improved.

Am I back to my old self yet? No, but I’m doing better. That’s something to celebrate, especially as we inch into the time of the year that is the most challenging for me to get through.

For now I sit next to my lamp and chuckle at the fact that I react so much to the lack or the presence of sufficiently strong light. I am entirely human-shaped, and yet somehow I still need to bask in light like a plant to function properly.

When that thought passes, others don’t take its place. In this moment, I am surrounded by light. I breathe in and out as it shines onto me, the desk, the chair, and the floor.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

It’s that simple.


Filed under Mindfulness and Meditation, Personal Life

12 Responses to On Mindfulness, Light Therapy Lamps, and Being a Human Houseplant

  1. Lydia,

    I can see the resemblance. House plants do indeed need extra light, but they also help keep the air clean and enable us to breathe more easily. Their colour is cheering and they remind us not only that it is possible to get through the grey days, but also that we can continue growing.

    So I think you’re right about being like a house plant.


  2. Stephen @ Reading Freely

    Usually in my area of the world — central Alabama, a few hours from the Gulf Coast — winter blues aren’t a problem. We’ve been having nothing but rain the last couple of months, though, and everyone’s been glum. Today was the first blue sky we’ve seen in a long while, and I was so relieved I sat outside in the cold during my lunch. I like your adaptation, too!

  3. I’m originally from California but I’ve been living in the north of England for nearly a decade now. I will never get used to how grey it is here. It’s not even the rain that bothers me so much as the fact it’s always so grey and grim outside. Anytime we get just a tiny bit of sun, even if it’s freezing out, I just stand outside letting it hit my face. My neighbors all think I’m a weirdo anyway haha.

    I’ve been meaning to get a SAD lamp but haven’t gotten around to it. After reading this though I definitely will get one. Any recommendations on which ones to look at?

    Thanks for this post!

  4. Love this post, really enjoyed reading it. Winters in London are the same, sigh, and it really affects our mental health. Sometimes, I feel so down and I don’t know why. Then, I look out the window and see the dark grey day, and I’m like, “Yes, that’s why I feel blue.”

  5. I like the phrase “Human Houseplant”! And as this pandemic has made a lot of the world go into isolation it feels even more fitting!
    Meditation has helped me go much, it really calmed my anxiety. I’m always trying to get people who are sceptical about it to give it a try. I didn’t think I would ever get into it as it just wasn’t me, but I’m so glad I did.

  6. I get it. I take a hike in the middle of the day (that felt heroic today with snow and wind, but I have snowshoes) and find that lifts my spirits. I also notice a big difference when I go out before breakfast, even if it’s just 15 minutes. My dogs are my light therapists and personal trainers. I don’t have a light lamp, but I imagine one in my future.

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