Kitchn Love Letters

The Unconventional Wellness Find I’ve Added to My Kitchen

published Sep 26, 2021
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Credit: Cathy Pyle

There are a lot of great things about living in Upstate New York, where I’m from, including (but absolutely not limited to) the gorgeous summer days and some of the best apple cider in the country. I just … don’t love it as much when six months of winter weather blanket my city in snow, slush, and, worst of all, gray skies. 

Because of this, I’ve struggled with seasonal depression for most of my adult life, and have worked to fight it with plenty of outdoor activities and Vitamin D supplements. But after these Covid-tinged winter months, full of quarantine and social isolation, I knew something had to change. I needed a better solution to my winter blahs. 

Then, my mother told me that, last year, she put a light therapy lamp in her kitchen, and used it whenever she prepped food or washed dishes. SMART. I decided to buy my own and get into the routine this August, rather than waiting for the dark to descend and scrambling to do crisis management on my mood.

After researching light therapy lamps, I sprung for a model that had multiple settings: The Verilux HappyLight Alba Light Therapy Lamp. It’s small — about 7.5 inches tall — and shaped like a miniature rising sun. I planned on keeping my lamp in the kitchen, and figured that it would only be useful if I liked how it looked. Otherwise, I’d tuck it in a closet and forget about it all winter long.

With perfect timing, my lamp arrived during a stretch of rainy, damp, and generally miserable weather. I plugged it in and situated it on my countertop, close to where I chop veggies, make coffee, and wash dishes.

Credit: Rochelle Bilow

Since then, I’ve been using it faithfully every morning for 30 minutes when I first wake up, and I’m definitely noticing a positive trend with my mood. I’m especially happy about the three different temperatures available on the lamp. The cool blue is a little harsh for my liking, but the warmest setting, a cozy red tone, feels soothing and calming as I go about my morning routine. This will surely be helpful if I want to use the lamp in the evening without too much blue light (I’ve noticed blue light, later in the day, impacts my sleep patterns).

There are also four different brightness settings, which is a huge relief, as I’ve had a few conversations with friends who claim that light therapy lamps don’t work for them because they’re too bright and glaring. With my light, I start on the lowest setting and gradually work my way up to the brightest each morning. Who knows; in January I may be cranking that baby on full-blast.

Credit: Rochelle Bilow

Before I purchased the lamp, I was worried it would either be too harsh, or would feel silly and unhelpful. But because I can customize the settings, and I’m using it as a part of my wellness routine, it’s manageable and impactful. And it doesn’t feel like “fake” light at all. In fact, if I cranked the heat and closed my eyes, I’d almost feel like I was at the beach. When we turn back the clocks and lose an hour of daylight, I can definitely see myself using this lamp in the evening as I cook dinner. And I know that I’m much more likely to stick to this routine if I can use it while I’m cooking and working. I’m just not the kind of person who will willingly sit still in front of a lamp for half an hour!

Maybe I just really want it to work, but I feel great, so far, about my light therapy lamp — and I’m a big believer in the power of a positive mindset. I’m not expecting it to perform miracles, but I am planning on using it straight through to the first sign of daffodils. If anything, it will definitely brighten up my already-low-light kitchen when we’re buried under a foot of snow.

Do you use a light therapy lamp in your kitchen? Has it worked for you?