Sometimes life circumstances can toss and turn us like clothes in a washer. Drenching us with intense emotion, churning us with stress and anxiety, spinning us into fatigue.
We all have those moments. While awareness and acceptance — when we get there — can help us experience and move through the challenging times and even yield unexpected gifts, some days we just need to find little ways to feel better in one moment so that we feel strong enough to head into the next.
A new study led by Alison Jing Xu from the University of Toronto Scarborough has shed some light on how we can ease the pressure in the moment just by dimming the lights.
Her research demonstrates how sensitive we all are to bright light – it seems to intensify everything. People felt warmer, preferred spicier food, perceived behavior as more aggressive and even had a stronger reaction to words when the lights were turned up.
This is cool if you are feeling awesome because bright light intensifies our good feelings. But, if you are feeling depressed or fearful, angry, or uptight, a bright sunny day or well-lit rooms can make you feel worse.
“Bright light usually correlates with heat and heat is linked to emotional intensity,” write the authors in the study which appeared in the Journal of Consumer Psychology. “This psychological experience of heat turns on the hot emotional system, intensifying a person’s emotional reactions to any stimulus.”
Try it for yourself. Next time you are feeling edgy, stressed, angry or uptight, dim the lights to dim the intensity of negative feelings. And, when you are feeling good, turn up the light and amplify those feelings.