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Health & Wellness

How to Bring More Sunshine and Fresh Air into Your Life

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The days are slowly but surely getting longer, but as winter marches on, the darkness and long nights can still feel heavy.

As we enter the season’s final stretch, we could all use a little more sunshine in our lives. Here are some ways to make the coming days a little bit brighter.

Light it up. Bring light into your life, literally, with a light therapy. According to the Mayo Clinic, illumination, even if it’s artificial, may help offer relief to people who suffer from Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD), a type of depression that sets in during the fall and winter when there’s less sunlight. [1] The Mayo Clinic published a guide on how to choose a light therapy box—which emulates natural sunlight—for your home. Read it here, and be sure and talk to your doctor about whether light therapy is right for you.

Purify the air naturally, with plants. If you’re feeling cooped up in your house this winter, try adding some plants to your interior landscape. They have a way of brightening a home up while also acting as a natural filter to purify the air. NASA has studied[1] ways to effectively clean pollutants out of the air (it’s a realistic concern for a space station, moon base or other sealed environment, after all) and found that houseplants, such as English ivy, Boston fern, spider plant and others, may help improve indoor air quality by filtering the air. And they’re also easy on the eyes!

Go outside, if appropriate. If the weather is appropriate, bundle up if you need to and take a walk around the neighborhood. Get your heart rate up, breathe in the fresh air and soak in the sunshine (even if there’s just a little bit there). All of the above may help battle the winter blues. Caution should be exercised when going outdoors in cold weather, particularly by older adults who lose body heat faster and for whom the cold weather can pose a danger to their health.  Talk with your doctor about how to stay safe in cold weather. 

Get a little hygge with it. Haven’t heard of hygge (pronounced HOO-gah) yet? There’s talk of the Danish word everywhere—the New York Times, The New Yorker, Forbes and even a book called “The Little Book of Hygge.” It’s a concept that essentially embraces comfort and well-being, and can involve cuddling, enjoying good food and appreciating the little things—like warm, cozy socks on a chilly winter day. So light a candle, curl up in a warm blanket, pour a cup of tea and invite more hygge into your life.

Make dates. Reach out to friends and loved ones and fill your calendar with outings you can look forward to. Visit a park you haven’t been to go to a movie, meet for a cup of coffee at a new coffee shop. Make plans to get out of your house and be around other people. If you’re feeling stir crazy, chances are, others are, too.

Plan a trip. Don’t like the weather where you are? Leave! Maybe winter is weighing on you, but there are plenty of places where the sun is shining, the waves are lapping at the sand and it’s picnic season. Research shows that the mere anticipation of a trip may make you happier. Head south and soak it all in for a few days. It may help re-up your resolve until spring.

[1]Interior Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Pollution Abatement

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