And so here we are. After a gloriously hot and sunny Summer, and actually a pretty gorgeous beginning of the Autumn, now the fall season is fully upon us. As the dark cold nights close in, followed by misty, frosty mornings, we have the tendency to hide inside, wrapped in warm blankets, hands folded around a mug of steaming tea, a great book or a movie at the ready. And of course – after a long day at the office, it seems to be the best way to take care of ourselves and to rest. Who would be crazy enough to go and spend the little bit of free time we actually have outside, when it’s so cold, damp, and dark?!
However, while I agree that evenings are made for cosiness during this time of the year, I would encourage you to ‘step outside’ first thing in the morning. As more and more details come to our attention about the ill effects of blue light, to which most of us are exposed most of the day, we need to learn our way around this and create a ritual that will support our body’s inner clock, also known as circadian rhythm.
There is no way around this - being exposed to artificial light messes up with this internal clock. It may all sound a bit woo woo and crazy to you; however, the internal clock, and the quality of light that we are being exposed to, is what tells our brain and our endocrine system what to do, and so has a profound effect on our wellbeing.
As the sun rises in the morning, the natural light outside is more blue, quite sharp and bright, and just by being exposed to it our body is encouraged to create hormones that make us feel awake and ready for action. As the sun sets at the end of the day, and the light turns softer, glowing in orange and red hues, our body begins to wind down, releasing hormones like Melatonin, that help us to relax, and also to fall asleep, and stay asleep, so we can wake up refreshed the next morning. This body clock system goes back to all those long years before we had electricity, and we woke up and went to sleep with the sun. Even after we started gathering around a fire, the soft red glow of the flames imitated the colours of the sunset perfectly.
These days however, the ever-present artificial blue light (read computer or hand-held electronic devise made) makes our brains think it is daytime, and so when we expose ourselves to this light late at night, the body gets all confused and prepares for a busy time ahead instead – and this affects how well – or not – we sleep.
As we are all working at all hours, it is almost impossible to avoid the glow of the screen, be it a phone, a tablet or a TV. Luckily, when you buy a new laptop or mobile phone, they generally come with a blue light filter these days – you just need to make sure it is turned on. Otherwise you can download a free app that will filter the blue light for you, making your screen more sunset-coloured, and so helping you to stay in sync with your Circadian rhythm. I love f.lux, which many experts also use and recommend. If you love to watch movies late at night – you can buy special glasses that will filter the blue light out for you. These are fab – even if a little geeky. But, after all, everyone’s face is glued to the TV screen and nobody is looking at you, so who cares that you are wearing yellow-lensed glasses?
Having said all that, whatever device we are looking at, it is still a lot less bright than actual daylight. And so – to help us reset our internal clock, the inner guide to our wellness, energy management, and our happiness, the best thing we can do as we start the new day is to go outside as soon as we can after getting up. You may feel that it is bright enough inside as you open up the curtains in your bedroom, but try it. Get dressed, and take yourself for a walk, and you will see the difference. Even on a super cloudy day you will realise how much brighter it is when you actually go outside. It makes you feel instantly awake, and ready for your day.
It could be that you choose to walk to the tube, or take a longer walk on the other side before you get to your office. You may decide to take up jogging, or take your dog out, but whenever you can fit it in, this morning walk is one of the best thing you can do for your well-being as we get closer to the Winter season.
See you out there in the morning, wrapped in warm scarf, kicking leaves, big grin on my face.
Blanka has been passionately learning about all things natural and alternative since her teens and has been on this exploring journey for almost three decades now. She discoved essential oils back in the 90s, fell in love with raw living foods in the noughties, and played with many other things in between. She is a Kundalini as well as Hatha yoga teacher, enjoys cooking, makes her own beauty products, and is always on a quest to find the best coffee in town.
Originally from the Czech Republic, she now lives with her Husband and a cat called Chloupek in SE London, where she teaches from her cosy yoga studio.