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More often than not, some of our favorite buys are small, how-didn't-I-know-about-this products that solve an everyday problem. That's what we're highlighting in our Little Lifesavers series: cheap, simple purchases that you'll use on the daily. Hit “Add to Cart” and thank us later!
The Problem: As the days get shorter, it gets harder and harder to muster up the energy for ... anything.
The Solution: The Verilux HappyLight Therapy Lamp delivers a 10,000-lux light dose to help me start the day with more pep in my step.
As the year winds down, my hibernation instincts kick in. Just like the outdoor temperature, my energy level drops — and I have limited reserves for any meaningful, intrinsically enjoyable activity. Unfortunately, the demands of our always-on culture render any hope of slowing down and resting for a prolonged period a total impossibility, so I continue to go through the motions while feeling emotionally weighed down.
During this time, I (along with an estimated 5% of the U.S. population) experience the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (also known as SAD) — these include anxiety, fatigue, and a pervasive sense of sadness. Obviously, using a SAD lamp equipped with 10,000 lux light, like the Verilux HappyLight Therapy Lamp, isn't a magic cure-all. However, studies have shown that using one daily for 30 minutes per session is an
“increasingly promising treatment option” to help alleviate SAD’s symptoms, so needless to say, I was optimistic about trying one out.
This particular Verilux HappyLight is a pared-down model with a price tag to match. It’s about $40 on Amazon (though it’s frequently on sale), making it a great entry point into the world of light therapy devices. It has one switch on the back that turns it on and off — meaning that there’s no dimmer, color temperature options, or timer, which many newer SAD lamps have. And while the very lightweight device is just 1.36 pounds, it has approximately the same size and shape as a paperback copy of Dune, making it a little bulkier than the sleek, e-reader-shaped models.
Still, I love the Verilux HappyLight Therapy Lamp because of its simplicity. I've used it throughout the winter months for about 5 years running, and, just like a jolt of caffeine, I find myself craving that initial burst of too-white light each morning. After flipping it on and angling it into my peripheral vision, my eyes adjust to the brightness as I sip espresso and read my backlog of Substacks while listening to WQXR. The minutes fly by during these 30-minute sessions, and when it comes time to turn the lamp off, I'm in a nice, light-energized state: Awake, alert, and relieved (even just temporarily) of heavy emotional baggage.
I consider the Verilux HappyLight Therapy Lamp just one part of a balanced routine for seasonal wellness to make depressingly dark winter mornings a little bit brighter. As obvious as this sounds, if you're determined to lift yourself out of a SAD slump, don't stop at light therapy alone. Getting outside for a walk and soaking up natural sunlight (even on cloudy days) is one of the best things you can do to regulate your mood and circadian rhythm.
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