The Holiday season is a time of joy and cheer, but for some, it can also be a time of stress and anxiety. That's why it's important to find ways to take care of your mental health during this time. One way to do this is by enjoying the beauty of Christmas lights.
We all know there's something magical about the soft glow of Christmas lights that can help ease stress and promote relaxation. Taking a stroll through a neighborhood filled with festive lights can be a great way to get some fresh air, exercise, and boost your mood. Even just sitting by the tree with the lights on can create a cozy and calming atmosphere.
We may not be psychologists but we suspected that there was more to Christmas lights than a feeling that they just make folks feel better. Research has shown that exposure to bright light can help alleviate symptoms of depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that is related to changes in the seasons. While Christmas lights alone may not be enough to cure depression, they can certainly help improve your mood and overall well-being.
Studies also show that putting lights up a little earlier and taking them down a little later can improve moods. Apparently, lights spark dopamine which is the same chemical released by eating chocolate chip cookies.
In addition to simply enjoying Christmas lights, there are also many creative ways to incorporate them into your self-care routine even if it isn't the Christmas season. You can try using lights as a form of meditation by focusing on the light and allowing yourself to relax and unwind. You can also use them to create a relaxing and calming atmosphere in your bedroom or living space.
Draping them over a headboard, hanging across a patio, or outlining a pergola are all ways to add lights to our surroundings. My favorite home decor project this year has been hanging curtain lights on our pergola. We plugged them into a timer most every day just after sundown. We grab healthy snacks, glasses of tea and decompress after a long day under the lights.
See a blog post about this project.
Overall, Christmas lights can be a simple yet effective way to promote mental health and well-being during the holiday season. So next time you're feeling overwhelmed, take a break and bask in the warm glow of some festive lights.
Don't take our word for it. Here are a few links for further reading.
Go ahead, put up the Christmas lights now! Science says it will make you happier
TRENDING SCIENCE: The science of why holiday lights bring us joy
Inferences about homeowners' sociability: Impact of christmas decorations and other cues by Werner, Peterson-Lewis, and Brown
How Holiday Lights Are Good for You by Alexandra Benisek
Can Christmas lights make you happy by Jack Schemmel
Exercise and Stress: Get moving to manage stress
How lighting affects mood by Eduardo Souzza
For additional reading. Reach out to a medical professional if you suspect you are suffering from depression. It's important to consult with medical professionals for any mental health concerns.
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) - https://www.nami.org/Home
American Psychological Association (APA) - https://www.apa.org/
Mental Health America - https://www.mhanational.org/
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) - https://www.nimh.nih.gov/index.shtml
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) - https://www.samhsa.gov/