The seasons of winter and spring bring lovely holidays and the promise of renewal, but the reality is that for most of us, this two-season stretch can be snowy, rainy and downright gloomy. We naturally spend most our time indoors because of weather. And this year Covid-19 has forced us to abandon the very social events that got us through hibernation. Activities have turned from social to technical; from relating in person to communication through some type of electronic screen.
Here’s the problem: less sunlight and outdoor activity + increased exposure to artificial light = anxiety, frustration, agitation and melt-downs. It’s simply the way we are wired. When our eyes perceive light, signals are sent to our brains about how to react. A bright light typically signals the brain that there is a task to complete. Dim light can signal that it’s time for rest. We were set this way when we all relied on the sun to give us our cues for waking and sleeping. But you can see how our ability to completely control light levels at any time of day can quickly confuse our circadian rhythm. Beyond this typical system, we all lie on a spectrum of preferences for what works best for us individually. For children with sensory integration issues, too much or too little light can cause significant and even serious repercussions.
We already have societal issues with all of us staring into a phone, tablet or computer much of the day. It is becoming clear what this “blue light” is doing to our moods and our much-needed sleep. And we know we are supposed to limit our exposure. Yet, despite our best efforts on that front, it has all gone out the window. With school going virtual, our children’s screen time has gone through the roof! Not only are kids attending classes this way, but we’ll all be using movies and apps for entertainment as well - it’s just too easy and parents need the break!
April kicks off an overview of my Designing Through the Five Senses model. (You can skim the March Journal Entry to catch up on this). We begin with SIGHT and how we can practice adaptive design through the lens of WHAT WE SEE. Aesthetics are what most of us think about first in design. But, as you’ll hear over and again, health comes before beauty for us at Acorn & Oak. When I talk about sight this month, I want to focus on quantity and quality of light and how that literally affects our mood, relationships and immune system. And the sources of this light- good and bad- are a big part of the equation. I will illuminate the issues and tell you why they matter. Every one of us is different, so it can take investigating to decipher what is best for each of your family members. There are some basic ground rules, however, that seem to benefit everyone’s autonomic nervous system. In the next Membership feature, you get SOLUTIONS on how to add, or subtract, light when and where you need to for a happier, more relaxed time at home.