You’re reading Here, Try This – our month-long plan encouraging you to try something new every day.
Where you work can strongly influence your mood – so make today the day you migrate nearer to a window. It could be in your bedroom, your living room or even standing at the counter in your kitchen.
Natural daylight is so important for our mental health. But in winter, there’s very little of it to be had. If you’re one of those people who doesn’t quite manage to get out for a walk on their lunch break, moving your workstation or desk to a window could really help you get that much-needed dose of daylight.
Moderate sunlight exposure is thought to improve mood, focus and feelings of calm by boosting levels of serotonin – a happiness hormone released by the brain.
In winter, light is even more powerful because it’s so limited, environmental psychologist Lee Chambers tells HuffPost UK.
He often suggests that clients who are working from home should switch up their setup so they are next to a window – or a bigger window – with more light.
So why make the move? Natural light impacts our productivity and wellbeing – “and this is even more of a consideration with the shorter days of winter and current challenges of lockdown,” says Chambers.
“Working closer to a window makes you feel better by reducing chances of eye strain, headaches and distorted vision. Studies have also shown that it increases focus and concentration, which is no surprise given it affects our cognitive ability and reduces drowsiness.”
One study from Australia found people had higher serotonin levels on bright sunny days than cloudy ones – and that effect remained regardless of whether it was hot or cold outside, Time reported.
Natural light can also increase our productivity, Chambers adds, and help us to sleep after a hard day of work, too.
“Because it is a major factor in our circadian rhythmicity, exposure positively impacts our sleep quality and quantity,” he explains. “The effect of this is significant, as it reduces our cortisol levels, improves our emotional balance and improves our energy management.
“If we add to this the stimulation of serotonin from natural light exposure, it’s fair to say that the window to your happiness is not too far away.”
It’s worth considering where you move your desk, too. Are you working while facing a bright window, or with a window at your back? Neither is ideal.
Experts recommend sitting perpendicular to the window while working, because there’s less glare on your screen. “Having it at your side will give you the best lighting,” Karen Loesing, owner of The Ergonomic Expert, told HuffPost UK.
This new year, we focus on fun, not denial (because we’ve all had enough of that). Follow our month-long plan, with a new Here, Try This idea each day, spanning easy ways to engage your body and mind, inspiration for your food and home, and tips for boosting how you feel – inside and out.