Light box therapy in your lunch break

Scuttling to and from work in perpetual darkness has left many office workers, like myself, weary and depleted.  Was it only a month since the Christmas holidays?  Rallying to the rescue is the food and juice bar, Crussh, who have very kindly opened up the capital’s first pop-up vitamin D and light box therapy bar.  Seeking the light, I scuttled round during my lunch break to get a well-earned dose of artificial rays.

Vitamin D pop-up bar sign in Crussh in New Street Square

Vitamin D pop-up bar in Crussh in the City of London.

The pop-up bar launched on Blue Monday (Monday 16th January) for a two-week run in New Street Square in the City of London.  The bar aims to beat the January blues by providing specially prepared Vitamin D smoothies to slurp in front of mood-enhancing light boxes.

What are light boxes?

Light boxes contain full spectrum white light which are said to replicate sunshine.  They are 10 to 100 times stronger than domestic lighting but contain none of the harmful UV rays associated with sunshine.  Light boxes work by being able to control and regulate the body’s natural rhythms which are thrown out of balance in the winter months by the scarce, grey light that constantly surrounds us.  A staggering 85% of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) sufferers who use light boxes claim that their overall mood is improved by light box therapy.

Light boxes at the Vitamin D pop-up at Crussh

Vitamin d pop-up at Crussh

Why is vitamin D important?

Vitamin D is essential for our health as it helps the body absorb calcium and phosphate from our diet to make strong bones, muscles and teeth.  During the summer months, we get all our Vitamin D directly from the sun, (that’s if we’re not spending all our hours in the office.)  But during the winter, we only have our depleted summer stocks to fall back on.  Winter sun in the UK does not contain enough UVB rays to enable our skin to convert it to vitamin D.   For this reason, the NHS recommends that vitamin D supplements are taken during the winter months.

Pop Up Vitamin D Bar Review

Alerted by a massive sign in the window, I make my way into Crussh which is buzzing with office workers on their lunch breaks.  The pop-up area is confined to a bench next to the front window where three light boxes are artfully placed.  However, despite the sign which takes up most of the window, nobody is clamouring to soak up the rays and there’s an air of nonchalant London indifference to the scene.

light boxes at the Vitamin D pop-up bar at Crussh, City of London

Vitamin D pop-up bar at Crussh, City of London

Grabbing my Blues Beater smoothie, I head to the window where I have the luxury of not one but two light boxes all to myself.  You don’t have to put your face directly in front of the light box to gain its benefit, but the white light is so inviting that I find myself tilting my head in the manner of a sun-starved sunflower to bask in its joyful rays.   There’s no warmth from the lamps but the light instantly feels comforting and if I close my eyes, I can almost kid myself it’s summer.  Experts recommend thirty minutes of exposure per day to gain full effects but as I’ve already spent twenty minutes dashing away from my desk, a fifteen minute blast will have to do.

Vitamin D Blues beater smoothie at Crussh

Vitamin D Blues beater smoothie at Crussh

Turning my attention to the Vitamin D smoothie, I eye the dubious dusky pink, colour suspiciously. It’s made from Kefir, a fermented milk drink packed with good bacteria –  (like Actimel on steroids); blueberries, spinach and banana.  The Kefir is intended add a natural protein and calcium hit while the magnesium and fibre elements claim to speed up the body’s metabolism and ability to absorb vitamins.

Taking my first slurp, the sweetness of the banana hits me immediately but I can’t detect any spinach or blueberries and the fizziness of the live cultures in the Kefir is notably absent.  But the thick, smooth texture tastes like a heavenly milkshake and I’m soon greedily gulping it down.  Whether it’s from the light box or the smoothie, I do leave Crussh feeling lighter and happier.  Would office productivity increase if every desk had a light box? Maybe it’s the next step in workplace wellbeing.

The pop-up bar ended on the 31st January 2017 but the Blues Beater smoothie is available from Crussh until March and costs £3.80 (small) and £6.30 (large).



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