It’s not news that your environment impacts how you feel. In cooler temperatures people tend to feel more calm and collected, and are able to feel empathetic with other’s emotions, while on hot summer days you might feel more easily agitated. It’s also well-documented that lack of sunshine in the winter can affect people’s moods. But now researchers have explored the connection between exposure to light and decision making. Typically when someone dims the lights, it’s to create a certain ambience – in a restaurant or in a home – that feels closer, more romantic. Yet a recent study has shown that lowering bright lights can help people to make more rational (read – less emotionally charged) decisions.
Exposure to bright lights turns on the hot emotional system, which can make reactions more extreme. In the study, participants were placed in two scenarios. In one experiment, people were participants in a script with an aggressive character. When experiencing the same scenes in bright and dim lighting, participants found the character less abrasive when the lights were lower. In another experiment, participants were given a tasty juice in bright and dim lighting. They drank more of the beverage when emotions were activated by the well-lit room. The co-author of the study, Alison Jing Xu Ph.D suggests using these results to lower conflict by dimming the lights when hashing out a disagreement with a co-worker, arguing with a romantic partner, or when you are about to indulge in a sweet snack to avoid letting your emotions overrun your better judgement. And wouldn’t every workspace be a better place if we got rid of all the harsh fluorescent lighting anyhow?
When I burn myself, I usually reach for two things. First, the cold water coming from the faucet, and then for my aloe plant. It’s succulent branches are well known to soothe the inflammation and pain from touching too-hot things. Now new research published in Dematologic Therapy (that I read about in the August issue of Self magazine) finds that kiwi fruit may also be effective at calming skin after a minor burn. Placing a slice of the vitamin C rich fruit can help your skin produce more collagen which can speed up the healing process. And eating lots of the little green fruit can help protect against burns of another kind by blocking UV rays from damaging skin when you’re out in the sun.
If a margarita, bloody mary, or lemon drop is your favorite pool side drink, you may want to reconsider your choice to save your skin. The juice of certain fruits (limes, lemons and celery in particular) contains chemicals that react with the sun, and can cause phytophotodermatitis, or sun induced chemical burns when present on your skin. Using lemon juice to lighten your hair, or drinking cocktails with these garnishes can put you at risk. If you notice redness, hyperpigmentation, or blistering, try hydrocortisone cream to reduce irritation, or see your doctor for a skin tone evener. Or, more simply, just avoid fruits and herbs containing these chemicals that are also found in parsley, parsnips and dill. Swap out your margarita for a daiquiri, and be sure to wash your hands/skin with soap and water after handling any garnishes to eliminate any residue on your skin.
Another reason to get outta that cube farm! A study presented by the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (I read about it on The Scoop) found that people who worked near windows are more active during the day, and get better sleep at night. People who had more light exposure slept up to 46 minutes more on average each night than those who didn’t get any sun. And, they moved their bodies 4 times more than those confined to an office with no windows. If you can’t score a corner office, no need to give up your current gig. Just make it a point to get outside on your lunch break to eat, or take a spin around the block to sleep and feel better!