I bet if you’re reading this right now, you’ve been wondering whether red light therapy for anxiety can work for you, or if it’s just another wellness fad that’ll come and go?
I feel you, and I had the same question not too long ago. But let me tell you – after using a red light lamp at home for over a year now, I’m a believer! I’ve noticed a real difference in my mood, energy, and skin since I started using it.
So in this blog post I want to dish all the deets about my experience with red light for anxiety relief. And don’t worry – I’ll also break down the “science-y” stuff in a way that makes sense! Knowledge is power afterall.
- Heart palpitations, racing heart rate, chest pain/pressure, shortness of breath, and dizziness are common physical symptoms of anxiety related to the body’s fight-or-flight response.
- These anxiety-induced heart and chest symptoms can make basic activities like walking difficult and trigger panic attacks.
- Hyperventilation, tense chest muscles, lying down, and stimulants like caffeine can trigger or worsen these symptoms.
- Relaxation techniques, breathing exercises, herbal teas, electrolytes, and magnesium supplements may provide relief in the moment.
- Long-term lifestyle changes like daily breathing rituals, exercise, nutrition, and reducing alcohol/caffeine are key for ongoing management.
- Though scary, these symptoms are temporary and not dangerous – staying mindful of this can prevent panic from worsening symptoms.
- Seeing a doctor to rule out other conditions and exploring therapy and medication options may also help find relief.
Here is a handy table of contents for you to jump around the article as you wish:
My experience with red light therapy at home
Before I get into the nitty gritty about the benefits of red light therapy for anxiety and all the other health information, I’ll share more of my personal experience.
Many years ago, I worked as an aesthetician at spas, so I was familiar with light therapy available at places like these. But I never knew you could get them for home use.
So when I came across a site selling them at the end of 2021, I was immediately intrigued.
I’ll be honest… the price was a bit of a shock at over $1000 for the device I ended up purchasing, but it has more than paid itself since then.
When I first turned it on, I remember being a little skeptical and apprehensive (thanks, anxiety!).
The light was quite bright and not something I was used to. It lit up the whole room! The device I bought (see in the recommendations section) came with a set of goggles I used the first few times, but I ended up ditching that as I got used to the light.
The light isn’t quite like a regular red lamp you might find at a house party being used for dim lighting. If you’ve never seen these devices, they have many tiny bulbs instead of one light source.
I was also surprised by the heat being emitted from the lamp! Not a super hot heat, but definitely noticeable. Think of the heat when you’re outside in the summer and feel the sun on your skin. A comfortable heat, you could say.
After using it for about a year and a half now, here’s what I’ve noticed:
- I fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly when I use it before bed. It’s become part of my regular nighttime routine! (jump to sleep benefits to learn more)
- My skin looks clearer and doesn’t break out as often. An added bonus I wasn’t expecting! (jump to bonus benefits to learn more)
- My energy levels are more stable throughout the day. No more mid-afternoon slumps. (jump to how light impacts your mental health)
- Most importantly – I generally feel calmer and less on edge. My anxiety doesn’t spike as often anymore. (jump to how does red light therapy work to ease anxiety)
Typically I use my light for 20 minutes at night as part of my nighttime routine. I’ll place it on the floor and sit cross-legged, facing it for 10 minutes, then with my back to it for another 10 minutes. While I sit there, I’m usually listening to calming music, listen to my affirmations, or I’ll do meditation.
You can use it the same way, or you’ll find your flow, and maybe first thing in the morning works best for you!
So how does this thing actually work? Let me break it down…
How Light Impacts Your Mental Health
Light is essential for our mental health.
When we get sunlight, it can make us feel happier and give us the critical vitamin D our bodies need.
But when we don’t get enough sunlight, it can make us feel down (Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD) and even worsen anxiety.
Knowing how light affects our mental well-being helps us look into red light therapy as a possible way to feel better.
How Does Red Light Therapy Work to Ease Anxiety?
Red light therapy uses special lights that glow red or near infrared. These lights shine gently on your skin. This red light is able to go inside your body and cells.
How Does It Work?
The red light wakes up tiny parts in your cells called mitochondria. Mitochondria give your cells energy, so they are like little powerplants!
When the mitochondria work better, your whole body works better. This helps you feel healthier physically and mentally.
How Can Red Light Help Anxiety?
For anxiety relief, red light helps your brain make more of a chemical called serotonin.
Serotonin is one of your “feel good” chemicals, also known as the “happy hormones”. It helps control your moods.
More serotonin means you feel calmer and more stable. Red light targets the upper layers of skin where there are a lot of serotonin receptors.
The red light wakes up the skin cells to take in more serotonin. This serotonin then travels to your brain to boost your mood!
How Red Light Therapy Can Help You Sleep
Sleep is very important for your health and wellness. Red light therapy can help improve your sleep quality.
Red light helps set your body’s sleep cycle. This makes it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night.
With red light therapy, you are able to get deeper, more restful sleep. This leaves you feeling refreshed when you wake up.
You can use red light as part of your bedtime routine like I do; just turn on the red light for 15-20 minutes before you go to bed.
This will help relax your body and mind and prepare you for sleep. Then you can enjoy a re-energizing night’s rest!
Comparing Red Light vs Infrared Light Therapy for Anxiety Relief
There are two main types of light used in light therapy – red light and infrared light. These lights are similar but also have important differences.
Let’s look at how red light and infrared light work so we can decide which may be better to help relieve anxiety symptoms.
- Glows red/orange that we can see
- Only reaches the outer layers of skin
- Makes cells produce more serotonin (“feel good” chemical)
- We can’t see the infrared light
- Penetrates deeper into the skin and muscles
- Improves blood flow and reduces swelling/pain
For Anxiety Relief:
Red light works directly on serotonin so it may be better for calming anxiety. Infrared light doesn’t specifically affect serotonin but may help you physically relax, and help with pains you experience from tensing your muscles.
Both red and infrared light can potentially help anxiety in different ways. The most important thing is finding what makes you feel better! Everyone is unique so one type of light therapy may work better for some people.
The cool thing about most at home red light therapy devices, including the two I’ll recommend, is that they come with both red and infrared light in one device – so you don’t have to choose!
Using Red Light Therapy at Home
It’s easy to use red light therapy devices at home. Follow these steps to start red light therapy:
- Choose a safe red light device that is right for you. Consider the strength, settings, and price.
- Decide which area of your body to treat. This might be your face, muscles, or where you feel anxiety.
- Set up the light device correctly. Read the instructions and place it at the right distance from you.
- Turn on the red light and start your session. Start with 5-10 minutes and slowly increase over time.
- Use the red light regularly for best results. Try to use it daily, either morning, afternoon or before bed.
- Be patient as your body adjusts to the red light sessions. Over time, you will find the routine that works best for you!
Picking a Red Light Device for Home Use
The great news is that you can experience the benefits of red light therapy in the comfort of your own home. Various red light therapy devices are available, including lamps, panels, and handheld devices. When considering a red light therapy device for anxiety, keep the following factors in mind:
Wavelength: Opt for a device that emits red or near-infrared light within the therapeutic range of 600 to 1000 nanometers. This range has shown the most effectiveness for red light therapy.
Power and Intensity: Consider the power output and intensity of the device. Higher power output allows for deeper tissue penetration and potentially better results. However, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid overexposure.
Quality and Safety: Choose a device from a reputable manufacturer that meets safety standards. Look for certifications and read customer reviews to ensure reliability.
My Recommended Red Light Therapy Lamps for Anxiety
Rouge Care: Based in Canada, Rouge Care is a great option. They make high-quality home red light devices with good settings and light wavelengths. Use the code RELAX50 to get $50 off your order! This is the exact panel I bought for myself and use to this day. Rouge also ships to the the US, Australia, UK, and more!
Vital Red Light: Vital Red Light is a US-based company that offers worldwide shipping. Their devices are renowned for their effectiveness and durability. With a range of models, you’re sure to find the perfect fit for your needs. Use the discount code “CALM20” when purchasing from Vital Red Light for a $20 discount.
Both brands let you split up payments over time, which can help make it more affordable.
Before buying a device, talk to your doctor or a light therapy expert. They can recommend the best type and brand for your needs.
Everyone is different, so the perfect device for you might not be the same as for someone else. Finding the right match, along with incorporating other anxiety relief strategies (like taking magnesium for anxiety) is key to getting long-term anxiety relief benefits!
What’s next for you?
I’d love it if you left me a comment to let me know how you liked this blog post, or, tell me if you have any other questions about the breathing necklaces?
And, to help you along your journey, I’d be honoured if you:
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