Five years ago I heard from someone that he had been successfully using my discovery that seeing faces in the morning improved my mood the next day. Recently I asked him to write about his experiences with it. Here’s what he wrote:
I’m a male professional in my 30s and have had mild to moderate depression since my early teens. I am a considerable rationalist and skeptic, so when I read about Seth’s morning faces therapy in a New York Times article about 5 years ago, my first thought was to doubt its effectiveness. But it was so easy and simple to try, with nothing to lose, that I gave it a shot. To my surprise, it really worked, and the change was quite noticeable.
I do 30-40 minutes of faces therapy every morning, starting around 7:00, 7:15, but the timing moves around a bit based on my schedule or sometimes for experimentation purposes. My first few years I used videos of actual faces (some of the recommendations that I found on Seth’s blog and others that I found on my own). Over time it’s become harder to find quality videos of sufficient length and compelling interest, and I now more often use a mirror. The effect, for me, usually lags by a day or two. So if I haven’t been doing faces for a while and I’m depressed then it takes a couple of day or so to get back to where I should be, and similarly when I stop the faces therapy it takes a few days or so for the depression to return.
While the therapy itself is simple, getting up on time and doing it every single morning has proven more difficult than expected. Even when I do it for several weeks in a row with no break, at some point the tiredness and weariness inevitably kicks in, whether because I was up late several nights in a row and am too tired to get up early, or because I’m traveling, or for other reasons.
Proof the therapy works is that I’m still carrying on five years after discovering it! When I stop for more than a few days, the resultant drop in mood inevitably brings me back.
As an aside, I sometimes spend time in the evening or morning doing other depression exercises, such as writing a gratitude list (google “count your blessings exercise”) or doing meditation/self-hypnosis. In the spirit of self-experimentation, I am currently seeing whether I can get the equivalent effect I get from the faces, by doing these other therapies in morning sunlight at the same early hour as I do the faces therapy. Full results are not yet in.
More about morning faces therapy.