Welcome Wellness - Winter is Coming

By the Department of Psychiatry’s wellness advocate, Dr. Deirdre Conroy:

Although quarantine has been difficult for all of us, at least with the sunny and mild weather, a walk outside could help clear your mind and provide the benefit of exercise. But, now that the temperature is falling, what can we do to prepare to endure the dark Michigan winter (voted the nation’s second most miserable winter, and that was pre-COVID!)? 

Let the light shine in. Studies show that appropriately timed light exposure can have big effects on your physical and mental health. Dr. Helen Burgess, Professor of Psychiatry and Co-Director of the Sleep and Circadian Research Laboratory, has been researching the circadian system and the influence of light on our biological clock for years. I asked Dr. Burgess what small things we can do to improve our health and wellness with the use of light? She recommends the following: “Seek out morning light (going outside, walking dog, have breakfast near a window, use light box, etc) and avoid evening light (dim lights in evening, avoid using light-emitting electronics near the face). Try to get light during the day by working in a room with a window or taking a break by going outside or sitting near a window.” 

To give our science-minded audience a glimpse of the impact that light can have on your health, check out Dr. Burgess’ scientific review here. Dr. Burgess is currently conducting several research trials testing the efficacy Re-Timer glasses to help a variety of medical and psychiatric disorders. Re-Timers are also available for purchase. You might consider investing or giving the gift of light this holiday season!