The first episode of the Live Life Better podcast is all about sight and how our visual experiences affect our general wellbeing and how we can improve that.
Melissa Hemsley is by joined Nina Ryner, founder of ChromaYoga - a new approach to yoga combining light and colour therapy techniques, innovative photographer Vicki King and Karl Ryberg - architect, psychologist and the author of Light Your Life, a book that explores the art of using light to aid health and happiness.
But what did we learn from the episode?
It’s important to exercise our eyes
Did you know that the eye muscles are the fastest muscles in the human body? Thanks to our 21st century habits, it’s easy for those muscles to become lazy so it’s important to give them a workout. Karl explains: “Looking at a mobile phone, sitting at an office desk, our eye muscles get very passive. We stare, we ogle, we just look at small objects that are close up, whereas the healthy human eye moves three to five times per second, looking at this and that and what’s going on in the corner of your eye.
“It’s a survival instinct so modern people have lazy eyes and lazy bodies and lazy everything. To retrain these muscles is the essence of eye yoga, it was invented back in the 1920s by a Dr Bates in the US who was working with schoolchildren and found that training the eyes you could often discard the glasses and regain the natural vision.”
We should swap the colours of our lights
Different colours have an impact on the way that we feel – including making us feel sleepy or more awake. To work with this there are simple changes we can make to the lighting in our homes that will make our lives that bit better.
“I have a sunlight clock so at 7am my clock slowly gets brighter and that’s how I wake up, rather than looking at my phone or switching my other cold lamp on,” Nina says. “I think the key is in terms of home lighting and comfort is that really in the evening you want to avoid blue light – so you want to avoid looking at your phone or your laptop because they are really strong emitters of blue light and swapping any cold white light bulbs for amber ones or ones that more of a warmer, orange hue.”
Get outside – even if it’s cloudy
Karl explained the impact of the lack of light in Nordic countries during the winter: “It’s estimated that some 30 per cent of the Nordic population suffer from SAD (season affective disorder), 30 per cent are on sick leave. And related to that you’ve got the flu, you’ve got the blues, the lack of energy and sleeping in.”
But SAD isn’t exclusive to people living in Nordic countries, so what should you do? “Ideally, you should sleep in during the winter,” Karl says, and recommends getting some more light when you are awake. “The European Commission says that as standard in your office at your working desk you should have at least 500 lux, that’s considered healthy illumination. On a sunny day you don’t have 500 lux, you have 100,000 lux so the human brain is used to vast quantities of light so when it gets too little it falls asleep.
“It makes a lot of sense to sleep during darkness but it makes no sense to sleep for three months, of course. Some antidotes can be given – one is consuming more blue light during noon time and ideally go outdoors at noon time because even on a misty, overcast day you’ll easily get some 5,000 lux because the volume of the sky is so vast. And 5,000 lux is 10 times what you get in your office so go out for a lunch walk, sit in the park, chat to the birds, recharge your brain.”