If you’re feeling a bit down at the start of the year and in need of a lift, look no further. We’ve got some very simple ways you can give your senses a boost…
See the light
“The bottom line with light is that we need more of it!” says lifestyle and wellness coach Fran Mac, “Summer daylight is around 10,000 lumens (equivalent to 10,000 candles) but the average amount of light in an office in winter is only 250 lumens.” She adds, “Lack of light impairs our immune system and predisposes us to stress and depression.”
Mac suggests getting outside as early as possible in the morning: “Being exposed to early morning light helps regulate your diurnal rhythm by increasing your cortisol levels in the morning and also triggering your brain to start producing sleep-inducing melatonin 12-14 hours later.”
But establish a blue-light free bedtime ritual
“Blue-enriched light is great for keeping us alert when needed, but staying connected late in the evening can get our bodies confused and, in effect, often leaves us feeling too fatigued and sleep deprived,” says Jonathan Cridland, CEO of light company Lumie, “There’s plenty of research to suggest that using blue-light emitting devices late in the evening isn’t great for us, leading to insomnia and increased tiredness. The use of a light therapy lamp (such as Vitamin L) in the office or home environment is one of the best ways to manage our mood and energy levels during winter."
Colour yourself happy
The colours you surround yourself with could be affecting your mood, either adversely or positively. While researchers agree that colour preference is subjective (and, of course, different colours are viewed differently in different cultures), interiors experts have long known of certain colours’ abilities to make a room seem – for example – warmer or colder. Knowing how a particular shade makes you feel will help you judge your own mood and drench it with the right colour accordingly. So if red cheers you up and you’re feeling glum, it makes sense to get changed out of that black number. Or if you’ve spent all day feeling low in a bland white office go and stare at a bright blue wall for a bit.
Some colours are almost universally cheerful though. “Yellow is a colour that brings up positive feelings and tends to make people think of carefree summertime, warmth and sunshine,” says colour therapist Chrisoula Sirigou, “Yellow is the colour of joy, intellect, brightness and light and has been found to lighten the mood of people with SAD or depression.”
Wake up and smell the roses
What we smell has been proven to affect our mood and sense of wellbeing.
By stimulating left and right nostrils with pleasant and unpleasant fragrances, researchers have seen differences in the left and right hemispheres of the brain, corresponding with ‘pleasantness ratings’ of the scents. Scientists have also found that we rate people as more attractive when we experience a pleasant smell. However, other studies have shown that our expectations about a smell – rather than any direct effects of exposure to it – could sometimes be responsible for changes in mood.
Some research has shown that some scents are considered universally pleasant – such as vanilla – and that scents such as peppermint and lemon can energise and increase concentration levels. Jackie Ashley, founder of scent company Ashley & Co, says, “Fresh, clean scents such a citrus, light florals and peppermint can most often uplift one’s mood. On the flipside, disliking an odour connected to something or an event that has meaning, can make us feel low. Avoid these by knowing what scents work to calm, uplift and reinvigorate your own wellbeing.”