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.
"How Christmas Lights Can Benefit Your Mental Health" by Jessica Booth, published on Bustle: https://www.bustle.com/wellness/how-christmas-lights-can-benefit-your-mental-health
"Why Christmas Lights Make You Happy" by Esther Heerema, published on Verywell Mind: https://www.verywellmind.com/why-christmas-lights-make-you-happy-4154509
"The Positive Effects of Christmas Lights" by Amanda Demeku, published on Hunker: https://www.hunker.com/13727392/the-positive-effects-of-christmas-lights
"The Surprising Mental Health Benefits of Christmas Lights" by Meghan Rabbitt, published on Prevention: https://www.prevention.com/life/a25488627/christmas-lights-mental-health-benefits/
"The Psychology Behind Christmas Light Decorations" by Dr. John Grohol, published on Psych Central: https://psychcentral.com/blog/the-psychology-behind-christmas-light-decorations
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/
Mayo Clinic - https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mental-illness/symptoms-causes/syc-20374968
HelpGuide.org - https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/finding-a-mental-health-professional.htm