Light Therapy and Your Mental Health
Our biologic clock affects mood disorders.
Your Biologic Clock
Your Biologic Clock keeps our body rhythms and sleep-wake cycles in synch with the light-day cycle of the earth. It is located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) in the hormone control center of the brain, the hypothalamus. When light enters the eye, it activates this part of the brain and reduces production of the sleep hormone (melatonin) produced in the pineal gland of the brain. The light also acts to the release of a variety of other hormones and affects body temperature.
Interestingly, we are programmed to cycle every 24.2 hours-but our exposure to light on a regular basis keeps us linked closely to the earth's rhythms. Four neurotransmitters (dopamine, norepinephrine, glutamate, and GABA) have roles in controlling the biological clock. Importantly, melatonin cannot be produced if thyroid hormone levels are not adequate. So, if you have sleeping problems, in addition to noting the amount of light you get each day, have your thyroid hormone levels checked.
Generally, the more bright light one gets during the day (especially earlier in the day), the more likely one is to make more melatonin (sleep hormone) during the night, and the less sensitive one is to minor light exposure in the evening or night time.
Light therapy uses specialized artificial light to treat mood disorders, shift one's biological clock, or synchronize one's sleep-wake cycle with the day/light cycle. It may also be useful in normalizing sleep and behaviour in people with dementia, although more research is needed.
The artificial light consists of either a light box which emits up to 10,000 lux of light, much brighter than a customary incandescent lamp, or a lower intensity of specific wavelengths of light from the blue (470 nm) to the green (525 nm) areas of the visible spectrum.
Application and Timing of Light Therapy
Synchronizing and/or Shifting Sleep/Wake Cycle
If one wants to delay sleep onset, it is best to give light therapy in the hours before bedtime, when core body temperature is beginning to go down. On the other hand if one wants to move sleep earlier in the day/night cycle, it is best to administer light therapy in the second half of the night.
For Mood Disorders
Seasonal Affective Disorder [SAD] is strictly defined as present when a person has a mood disorder which occurs during a particular time/season of the year, and then clears completely at other times of the year. Current criteria require that this occur for 2 years, consecutively. In practice, most people have a seasonal component to their depression, but do not fit strict criteria. Nevertheless, people with a seasonal component do benefit from light therapy. Light therapy is not a substitute for other treatments in non-seasonal depression, and is probably only an adjunct in those who only have a seasonal component to their mood disorder. People with a tendency to oversleep and overeat are more likely to respond to light therapy than others.
If one is treating a mood disorder, light therapy is best given for duration of 30 minutes for every hour one sleeps beyond 6 hours. So for example, if one sleeps 8 hours, they would require one hour of light therapy given one hour before they would normally wake. Since this is unlikely to be done by people who already feel the need for more sleep, it is best to use a dawn simulator light.
Light therapy for mood disorders should usually begin about one week before depressive symptoms tend to begin (based on your past experience), or as soon as they begin. It should be tapered as the day lengthens. The transition dates are around the spring and fall equinox (March 20/21 and September 22/23 each year.)
It is possible that bright light between 7-9 PM may help people with dementia sleep better, have fewer night-time awakenings, reduce the decrease cognitive functioning and orientation (called ‘sun-downing') which occurs at night.
What Kind of Light Is Best?
Early studies used 10,000 lux (a measure of light intensity) broad spectrum light, kept one to two feet from the eyes. However, newer data indicates that low lux light (500 lux-which is about 1/10 as strong as the light at dawn) may be just as effective. Short wavelength light (blue part of the light spectrum) seems to be the most active part of the light spectrum, in terms of shifting sleep/wake cycles. Nevertheless most lights available for SAD are 5,000 - 10,000 lux.
Placement of Light [Dawn Simulator]
A dawn simulator is placed above the head (on a headboard), with the light facing the pillow. It is set to go on very gradually-starting about three hours before the normal waking time, and peaking in intensity at the normal waking time. It then shuts off within 10-15 minutes. The advantage of the dawn simulator is that the treatment is administered while you are asleep, and simulates conditions on a normal spring day.
Are There Side Effects of Light Therapy?
Light therapy is similar to drug therapy in that the response depends on dose, timing of dose, and duration of use. There can be mild side effects as well (agitation, insomnia, and rarely nausea or headache). If side effects do occur it is usually best to reduce the amount of light therapy, after discussion with your doctor. One need not look directly into the light to obtain benefits. If you have an eye condition, you should consult your ophthalmologist before using light therapy.
Paul Bach-y-Rita (April 4, 1934 – November 20, 2006) was an American neuroscientist whose most notable work was in the field of neuroplasticity. Bach-y-Rita was one of the first to seriously study the idea of neuroplasticity (although it was first proposed in the late 19th century), and to introduce sensory substitution as a tool to treat patients suffering from neurological disorders. Bach-y-Rita's most notable work was in the field of neuroplasticity. He is seen as the first to propose the concept of sensory substitution to treat patients with disabilities, often those caused by neurological problems. One of the first applications of sensory substitution he created was a chair which allowed blind people to 'see'
'We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already; we have the power to imagine better.' - JK Rowling
When our staff are the biggest asset of the business, why do we let so many come and go, and what is the true cost?
If we invested in the latest piece of technology, would we throw it out after a few weeks or months? Or worse, allow our competitors to just walk in and take it?
So then, why do we allow our biggest assets to walk out the door, and what real impact does that have on our bottom line?
1. Cost of Hiring and Firing
The hiring process is costly. It costs about 38% of an employee’s annual earnings to replace him or her, including training and recruitment, as well as the costs of the separation process and losses in productivity because of the disruption in workflow. A revolving door employer doesn’t only lose a single staff member’s productivity; the entire organisation suffers.
Someone has to pick up the slack when an employee leaves. Employees who are doing their own jobs as well as covering for unfilled positions, have increased levels of stress, affecting their level of productivity and quality of work.
3. Knowledge Gap
Chances are the employee filling in for the vacant job, doesn’t know everything about the requirements of the job, as they’ve been too busy doing their own. This can slow down productivity, or unhinge it entirely, as they won’t be doing their own job to the best of their ability, or the one they’ve had to pick up.
When stretched too thin, by having to cover vacant posts, the chances of burnout increases exponentially. The longer it takes to fill the role, the higher the burnout rate, causing recruiters to sometimes panic and fill positions with less than capable people, just to avoid damaging the health of the other employees. High stress levels increase sickness, and further lost days of productivity, which can lead to a vicious circle of high turnover, and high burnout rate.
5. Low Morale
One of the most obvious and detrimental effects of high turnover, is low morale. This is highly contagious between employees, as it only takes one to start a chain reaction with others. Symptoms include feeling disengaged, unimportant, a sense of worry that their job might be next, a lack of team camaraderie and continuity, leading to people wanting to find new jobs.
6. Poor Employee Engagement
By continuously replacing employees, there is no real opportunity for employee engagement from management, as they’re not there long enough, and in fact this lack of engagement is a real problem. 66% of highly engaged employees reported that they had no plans to leave their company, while only 3% were actively looking for another role. Compared to 88% of disengaged employees who had plans to leave their company, with 31% actively seeking new employment.
So, what’s the solution?
Imagine if your employees could learn skills to manage their mood, increase levels of motivation, work smarter, more efficiently, increasing sales and productivity. Imagine if they could create a positive culture, where everyone is a highly valued team player. Imagine if they could resolve problems that existed outside work, and you as their employer gave them the training to do so.
Where would their levels of loyalty, trust and support be towards your organisation? What would they tell others about your company? What impact would this have on the number and quality of people who want to work with you? How would having the cream of the crop impact your business performance, and your bottom line?
Staff training and leadership development can save companies fortunes, and can save the fortune of the company. Leaders – management and above – either create or maintain the culture, and if the culture is toxic and people leave, they must take responsibility, and a new approach.
Problems that exist outside work, need to be dealt with to avoid bringing them inside work, and people need tools and strategies to do that. Having the skill set to take personal responsibility, is not only extremely empowering, but also increases levels of well-being and productivity.
Addressing these areas means you’ll have a happy, loyal and productive workforce, heralding the company name, and attracting more good people to work there. Attracting the best talent is THE competitive edge in today’s market, however keeping them takes continuous development – both personal and professional – in equal measure.
By considering this fully, and getting the right help, this one factor could change everything.
"The biggest problem with the communication, is the illusion that it has taken place." - George Bernard Shaw
There are approximately 6900 languages currently spoken around the world, the majority of which have only a small number of speakers. The majority of us speak one of thirty of the most common languages, but whatever language you speak, your communication consists of verbal and nonverbal cues. The words you use convey information, logically reasoning concepts and ideas. However, your nonverbal cues ie body language, tonality and facial expressions are more emotionally driven and express how you really feel.
Communication is constantly happening around us in various different forms. The problem is we’re all so busy with life in general, we lose sight of whether we communicate effectively or not, and the impact it may have. How many of us have experienced miscommunication – either as the perpetrator or the recipient? A more appropriate question to ask is: how many times do we either miscommunicate to others or are miscommunicated to, on a daily basis?
You see the problem with communication is that we cannot, not communicate. Meaning that whether it’s direct or indirect, we are always saying something. Sometimes the loudest message is expressed through silence, and sometimes by shouting the loudest, we say the least.
Although we are all taught how to speak from an early age, we are not necessarily equipped to express more complex ideas later in life. As a species, we have evolved complex ways to communicate through various art forms, but at the end of the day, it’s all about self-expression. The problem with spoken language, is that it’s merely an approximation of how we feel, or an approximation of the ideas we’re trying to express, and we have to somehow find the right words, in the right tone that will resonate enough to get the message across.
Then we get into the more complex, but more honest, world of unconscious communication through body language, tone etc. and then we have to learn how to read and respond to that as well! Different people respond to different levels of communication, so we need to try and work all of that out at the same time! Exhausting stuff! The amount of energy involved in getting it right every time is huge, so it’s no wonder we sometimes get our wires crossed!
This can be a problem in all areas of life, but particularly if, as a leader, you are responsible for delivering a message that has to be understood, acted on and delivered by groups of people; all of whom may have a different filtering system, allowing different parts of the message to get across. So there has to be a level of common ground, that will allow the most important points to be universally understood, then we can drill down into the detail as we go.
If we all understood how we communicated to each other, and used it effectively, we could change the world! Imagine if there were no more misunderstandings, if there was a level of empathy and understanding in our communication with the view that we are all here just trying to do our best. The mysteries of life will still perplex us, but if we can at least learn how to communicate in ways that creates a certain amount of harmony, then surely our stay on this planet would be a lot easier all round!
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One of life's challenges with which personality typology can help us is the constant conflict between adapting in order to get along in society and remaining true to the essence of who we are. Sometimes, our strengths and weaknesses fit just fine in what is expected of us and what is considered the norm. However, at other times, maybe it’s not so much the case.
This is particularly true if you are in one of the statistically less represented personality types (Introverted and Intuitive, for example). We all have adapted in our lives to fit in to some degree. We’ve done things that we didn’t want to do in order to keep from making waves. We’ve done it all of our lives to keep parents, teachers, or bosses off our backs. We’ve all adapted, at least a little, at some point in our lives, to fit into a social circle that we desire to be a part of. (Remember that unfortunate haircut in high school?)
Adaptation is a survival mechanism and may be useful when it comes to our jobs and other situations where we have to get along with others. As an example, let’s place a Sentinel (_S_J) guy in an office administrative position in a music studio that primarily caters to Explorer (_S_P) musicians.
There is a tendency to overcompensate when something we value is missing. Let's say in this scenario, the thing missing is organization in the company - art can be a messy business. A Sentinel may become extremely rigid in response to what he sees as a lack of regard for the rules. A lot of "coloring outside of the lines" would not be unusual among Explorers. The Sentinel's rigidity would be overcompensation by the Sentinel in an attempt to get control over the "lawless" environment he finds himself in.
However, we know from experience that dictators are rarely welcomed among free-spirits. It may be necessary for our Sentinel to be adaptive and to adopt a less rigid attitude if he really needs the job. Adapting, in this case, might mean survival. The question then becomes: Can the Sentinel take their extreme organization back a notch so as to function better among the free-wheeling artists? Can he stay true to his core self and the traits where he functions best while adapting to the quirks of a certain workplace? If he can stay true to himself while squelching his rigidity, it might save him a job. What is the cost of not being more adaptive?
Or, on the other hand, it might also indicate it's time to find a new place to work that doesn't feel quite so much like a madhouse. Either way, the situation requires a decision by the Sentinel about how he approaches this particular environment and how he'll adapt (or not adapt) to it.
So, adaptation is one way in which we might get along better with the world around us. We need to remind that we are always adapting and that some adaptation is healthy. It's part of what happens in a society made up of differing personalities and beliefs. We end up compromising by necessity. It's inescapable. How else we will get along with others if we demand only our own way? Sometimes we just have to suck it up and change our behavior to make things work.
However, while adapting is often necessary, we should always be vigilant for fear that we might over-adapt at the expense of our happiness. When we give up our strengths to adapt, then we've gone too far. There is nothing more miserable than being in a place where we don't fundamentally fit. Sometimes, one can feel a bit lost and drowning among all the adaptations that the world around us demands we make. Learning our personality traits can help us get back in touch with our genuine selves. In some cases, it might even give us permission again to be who we are.
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This is the greatest gift ever give to mankind. But it can be used to create either heaven or hell, depending on the user, and their understanding of it. When you look at the human race throughout history, how did we get from the caves to the pyramids? From inventing fire to harnessing electrical energy, enough to power our vast cities and supporting the exploding populations that live there. Everything we’ve achieved throughout history began with one thing…the individual creative imagination. It is true that not all the things we’ve done have been good, and generally have benefited but a few greedy individuals for their own gain. But there has equally been so much good achieved through harnessing our creative power, to benefit all mankind.
It’s so easy to get cynical, especially these days, and with some good reason. But let’s not forget that we all possess this power to achieve what we want. With the benefit of free will, that’s exactly what we can do, and like anything there will always be good and bad, yin and yang. But they are both necessary to create balance in the universe. Creation is born from destruction, examples of which we can now see throughout the entire universe. So, we can chose if we want to create or destroy according to what we believe to be more important and hold our highest values.
If you want revolution or change, then you must first bring down the status quo, then rebuild a society that’s stronger and more equal than before. The revolution today is more revolution of thought backed with more subtle action than before, and as long as we all take small actions of change together, then we will achieve a positive result. How long that takes depends on how many actions are taken and by how many people. In the time of the French revolution, things were so bad that the only action for change was violent and immediate. These days with our technology, we can effect change in a much more subtle but equally if not more effective way. It’s the revolution of ideas that spread creating the most dramatic change, all of which come from the creative imagination.
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'The creative imagination is so powerful that it makes you believe, or disbelieve, anything you confirm to be 'true' in your mind.'
We are all governed by our beliefs; the ones we have about ourselves and the world around us, and they are useful. You can be sure that if you put your hand in a fire you'll get burned or if you fall off a two hundred foot cliff it's unlikely you'll survive. But if you're told you can't get that new job or promotion, that you can't win that tournament or trophy, then that's more opinion than fact.
Changing beliefs about yourself or your situation involves challenging them. You have to decide whether or not they are fact or opinion and there's a huge difference. Similarly, there's a huge difference between optimism and delusion, so by basing your beliefs on facts rather than opinion, you create the foundation neccesary to build the reality you want.
If you're told that the sun will rise tomorrow you can be pretty sure that's a fact. But if you're told, or if you tell yourself things like 'I'll never hit my target,''I can't lose weight,' or 'I just don't have the confidence,' then challenging these opinions can induce powerful change.
'Human beings always act and feel and perform in accordance with what they imagine to be true about themselves and their environment.' - Dr. Maxwell Maltz
Our beliefs help create our self-image, the image we have of the world around us and our place in it. They are born through years of programming we get from our parents, teachers, friends, the media and any other bits of information we've picked up along the way.
Although some beliefs are important, not all of them are. In fact, the reason that we can feel stuck is because we have limiting beliefs that tell us we can't do the thing we really want to do.
Feeling 'stuck' can cause all manner of negative feelings like frustration, depression, anger and stress. So it's important to recognise what's going on, find out how to correct course and set some new goals that inspire you to move forward.
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