Greenhouse Effect/Affect

Yes, we all talk about the greenhouse effect and it seems the news continues to be more and more dismal.

Today, let’s talk about greenhouse ‘affect’, the effect of living in a glass environment on your soul, your psyche, and your health.

We all know the long dark winter days we endure are hard on our spirit. It does not seem natural to be cooped up in the house for all those months without any sunshine.

Under glass, the advantages are many.

One is SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder

In a recent article printed in Scientific America, the effects of too much darkness are documented:
“The association between darkness and depression is well established. Now a March 25 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals for the first time the profound changes that light deprivation causes in the brain.

Light Deprivation Study

Neuroscientists at the University of Pennsylvania kept rats in the dark for six weeks. The animals not only exhibited depressive behavior but also suffered damage in brain regions known to be underactive in humans during depression. The researchers observed neurons that produce norepi­nephrine, dopamine, and serotonin—common neurotransmitters involved in emotion, pleasure and cognition—in the process of dying. This neuronal death, which was accompanied in some areas by compromised synaptic connections, may be the mechanism underlying the darkness-related blues of seasonal affective disorder.

Principal investigator Gary Aston-Jones, now at the Medical University of South Carolina, speculates that the induced darkness disrupts the body’s clock. “When the circadian system is not receiving normal light that, in turn, might lead to changes in brain systems that regulate mood” he says.

Treating the rats with an antidepressant significantly ameliorated brain damage and depressive behaviors. “Our study provides a new animal system for antidepressant development. Many existing animal models depend on stress. Our model is a stress-free means of producing a depression. It might be particularly relevant to seasonal affective disorder, but we think that it is relevant to depression overall,” Aston-Jones says.”

We obviously believe the conservatory is the cure for this. We have one client in Boston who said she always used to require winters in Florida to prevent depression, now she stays home in Boston, and spends her time in the conservatory. Of course, this may be bad news for the tourist business in Florida, but its great news for the family that gets mom home all winter.

Your Greenhouse ‘Affect’ also comes from the enjoyment of being outside in the winter, without the boots and parka. We enjoy snow storms and blizzards in the conservatory and pretend we are inside a snow globe!

Consider fresh herbs, leafy vegetables, and flowers in your winter. Never stop gardening all year round. Would you not say your life has improved if you can enjoy the fruits of your labor, all winter long?

On sunny days in the winter, my conservatory will heat up to 85 degrees. I let bread dough rise in the sun. Grandkids take naps on the loveseat in the sun. Most of our winter days are sunny (when it’s not snowing), and the sun is a welcome benefit to a long dark winter.
The greenhouse effect can be good mental health, a place to read, a place to garden, or a place to soak in the hot tub. Without a doubt the effect on us all is positive.