Step 1 for me in self care and recovery is fixing my lighting environment. One of the more important things one can do for proper sleep and recovery is to view the sun rising in the morning. The higher percentage of infrared and red light in the morning, when received through the eye, signals the brain to produce melatonin to be released later at night when red light dominates again with the setting sun. When the circadian rhythm is properly entrained, hormones like melatonin, leptin, and ghrelin and neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine all start to work together and balance out for optimal performance throughout the day. Our environment dictates how our bodies function and after 4 billion years of evolution we are designed to be intimately connected to the sun and the earth. Modern life removes us from this connection, but we can still make time to reconnect everyday.
Ideally, I would take a walk morning, noon, and evening, but with the overcast sky this morning I hopped in front of the red light array I put together. I tend to stick to incandescent lights over LED because I'm a bit sensitive to flickering lights and slows down my thinking ability (LED is not as noticeable as CFL or standard fluorescence). I usually spend 20 minutes exposing myself to the morning sun or in front of the red lights. It also provides some time to mentally prep for the day or reflect on things I'm grateful for.
Another reason I'm a fan of using incandescent bulbs over LED for red and infrared light exposure is that it provides more a full spectrum light and heat to our system, more closely matching the sun's effects. An often overlooked benefit of this aspect of morning sun exposure to the eyes and skin is that it prepares the skin to safely receive sunlight with higher UV rays during mid day. IR-A light energy prior to sun exposure makes the skin more resistant to DNA damage from over exposure to UV dominant sunlight. It also begins the healing process when exposed again in with the setting sun. This should shed some light on why decoupling UV from IR light in tanning beds is so much more damaging to the skin than burns from direct sunlight.
Adding this single step to my recovery protocol seems small when I go over the big picture in my head, but it is more sustainable to add one practice at a time instead of the whole shebang and burn out. My schedule is incredibly busy, so small changes are necessary for long term health practices to take hold.