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BellaOnline's Stress Management Editor

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The Effect Of Light On Emotion


During gloomy, darker days people tend to experience sadness and less optimism. When the sun is shining brightly, people are more upbeat and open to possibilities. However, for some people prone to depression, spring and summer exacerbate their depression. Is it because they feel pressured to be happy – as though the sun is shining for all those happy people out there and they don’t measure up on the happiness barometer? Or is it the bright light highlighting their problems?

A new study from the University of Toronto Scarborough sheds light on the role of bright light which apparently contains a darker side. Accordingly, bright light ups our emotional intensity to whatever we are feeling or the things we are doing. This means: Colors are brighter; spicier food is spicier; attraction to another is stronger; anger is angrier, etc. “Bright light intensifies the initial emotional reaction we have to different kinds of stimulus including products and people,” author Alison Jing Xu claims.

This study from the Journal of Consumer Psychology is not just meaningful to retailers who can manipulate shoppers by adjusting the intensity of the light. According to Xu’s logic, if you are selling engagement rings – an emotionally intense product – you can raise the brightness of the counter to motivate the consumer to buy the merchandise.

Clearly, if you are in a situation which is emotionally charged and need to make a rational decision, dim the lights to lower the intensity in order to reach balance. And in spring and summer on a bright sunny day a depressed person might experience negative emotions more intensely and catastrophize. Accordingly, it would be advisable to change up the negative energy and walk into a more dimly lit cool room.

How to make more rational decisions in any light:
  • Be aware that possession is already 9/10 of ownership. This is why we tend to hold on to our purchases even if we can return them without penalty and have cluttered closets. Instead of buying something impulsively during a shopping spree, put it on hold and see if you still like the potential purchase the next time you see it even if only 24 hours later.
  • Many tend to focus on loss, rather than what can be gained. We were not taught how to lose possessions or how to handle job or relationship loss. There is much to be learned from failure, adversity and stressful situations. Turn stress into strength.
  • Many tend to negotiate or consider relationships from their own personal context. When you see things from the other side, you are able to clear up a misunderstanding or build a good relationship whether personal or business.

For more information on managing your stress and reclaiming your life read my book, Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life. To listen to archived radio shows with guest experts visit Turn On Your Inner Light Radio Show




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Content copyright © 2014 by Debbie Mandel. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Debbie Mandel. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Debbie Mandel for details.

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