Psychological Reasons to Use Good Hobby Lighting: Motivation and Focus

Psychological Reasons to Use Good Hobby Lighting: Motivation and Focus - good hobby lighting and motivation - motivation and focus for hobbies and miniature painting - banner image

Did you know that good hobby lighting can help improve your motivation and focus? There’s a scientific reason for how and why this works. If you’re like me, then you love spending hours in your hobby room working on different projects. But, one downside to this is that it can be easy to lose focus and flow as the day drags on. This is where good lighting comes in: by using a quality light source over your work area, you’ll find that it’s much easier to stay motivated and focused on your work.

In this article, I’ll quickly explore how and why good lighting can help improve your motivation and focus. We’ll also discuss some of the best ways to get good light into your hobby room.

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Psychological Reasons to Use Good Hobby Lighting: Motivation and Focus - motivation and focus for hobbies and miniature painting - hobby desk space lit up
It’s a mess. But, at least you can see everything! I have a lot of junk on my desk, and you’ll notice all the different doodads hanging off and around the tabletop. Much of it is there to either give me the proper illumination to see what I’m painting, or to help me photograph and film it all as I’m working.

TL;DR: The Relationship Between Light, Motivation, and Focus

  • The human brain is hardwired to be more alert and attentive in bright light
  • Bright light increases the production of dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and focus
  • Dopamine is associated with pleasure and reward, among other things. It’s also involved in movement and mood, as well as decision-making
  • Proper light exposure can increase the production of noradrenaline, another neurotransmitter that helps us maintain attention and concentration
  • Noradrenaline is associated with the fight-or-flight response, which also means that it contributes to keeping us alert and aware of our surroundings
Psychological Reasons to Use Good Hobby Lighting: Motivation and Focus - motivation and focus for hobbies and miniature painting - relationship between light and psychological well being

If you’re looking for ways to get quality light into your hobby room, try using a desk lamp with a good daylight bulb or investing in some LED artist lighting. You’ll be surprised at how much of a difference it makes.

Read on to find the best ways to add quality lighting to your hobby work area!


The Science Behind Motivation and Good Lighting

There’s a scientific reason why good lighting helps improve your motivation.

Well, ever wonder why you feel more alert in the daytime?

It’s because of the Sun. The Sun emits a broad spectrum of light (e.g., a lot of wavelengths), which can directly influence your biology.

In fact, light exposure can influence several neurotransmitters associated with mood, concentration, and attention.

  • Dopamine is a neurotransmitter manufactured in the brain. It serves as a “reward center” and participates in a variety of bodily processes, including memory, movement, motivation, mood, attention, and more (source).
  • Noradrenaline, often known as norepinephrine, is both a neurotransmitter and a hormone. It has an important role in the body’s “fight-or-flight” response. Regarding attention and focus , noradrenaline is released in response to stress and danger, preparing the body for action. This release results in increased heart rate and blood pressure, as well as enhanced alertness and mental sharpness (source).
  • Serotonin is involved in a wide range of bodily functions, including mood, sleep, digestion, nausea, wound healing, bone health, blood clotting and sexual desire. Low or excessive levels of serotonin can lead to physical and psychological issues (source).

What is “blue light”?

Blue light is a type of light that is known to affect human behavior. It is emitted by the Sun and other sources, such as computer screens and LED lights. Blue light has been shown to increase alertness and attention, as well as regulate mood and focus.

RELATED: IS BLUE LIGHT HARMFUL? MAYBE

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Blue light, literally, from a smartphone can affect your sleep pattern. Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com
Psychological Reasons to Use Good Hobby Lighting: Motivation and Focus - motivation and focus for hobbies and miniature painting - motivation and focus are not feelings

The Day and Night Cycle is More Important Than You Think!

The human brain is hardwired to be more alert and attentive in bright light.

This is because the human body has an internal clock, known as the circadian rhythm, which regulates our sleep-wake cycle.

Psychological Reasons to Use Good Hobby Lighting: Motivation and Focus - motivation and focus for hobbies and miniature painting - day night cycle circadian rhythm diagram

The circadian rhythm is controlled by exposure to light and darkness. When it’s light outside, our brains are more alert and when it’s dark, our brains are more relaxed.

For those of us who lack the ability to stay motivated, or find ourselves bogged down, it’s possible that our natural body clock is out of sync.

This can happen for a number of reasons, such as working night shifts, jet lag, or simply not getting enough exposure to light during the day.

Fortunately, there are ways to reset your circadian rhythm. One of the best ways to do this is by exposure to bright light in the morning.

This can be done by simply opening the curtains or going for a walk outside.

Another way to reset your circadian rhythm is by using a light therapy box. Light therapy boxes emit bright light that can help to improve your mood and focus.

While its effectiveness isn’t for everyone, there are quite a few studies out there supporting the idea that light box devices can help you reset your internal attention or mood state (source).

In general, for overall well-being it is often recommended that we all get exposure to Sunlight (the best kind of light) during the day and avoid bright lights at night.


How Does This All Apply to Good Lighting in the Hobby Room?

Now that we know a tiny bit of the science behind motivation and good lighting, let’s apply it to the hobby room.

If you want to be more productive in your hobby, e.g., miniature painting, what have you, it’s important to have a good light source.

Psychological Reasons to Use Good Hobby Lighting: Motivation and Focus - motivation and focus for hobbies and miniature painting - light affects mood and narrative
The quality of light affects everything; even the mood in a photograph.

This can be anything from a desk lamp with a high-wattage daylight bulb to LED task lighting. The important thing is that you have a bright light source that will help you see what you’re doing and stay focused on your work.

In addition to a good light source, it’s also important to make sure that you’re getting exposure to sunlight during the day.

This will help to keep your circadian rhythm in check and ensure that you’re more alert and attentive when you’re in your hobby room.

Psychological Reasons to Use Good Hobby Lighting: Motivation and Focus - motivation and focus for hobbies and miniature painting - quality of light
The quality and amount of light on any subject (including you) directly affects the appearance and, in some cases, the behavior of that subject. This miniature is an inanimate object and does have a behavior… or does it?

Of course, if you’re like me and stuck working in a basement, you may not be able to throw open the curtains for natural sunlight. In this case, a full spectrum LED lamp or a lighting system with a “daylight” setting can help to simulate the effects of sunlight and improve your mood and focus.


The Best Ways to Get Quality Light Into Your Hobby Room

There are a few different ways to get quality, bright light into your hobby area. As mentioned, one option is to use natural light by opening up the curtains or blinds. Another option is to use artificial light, such as lamps or LED lights.

If you’re using artificial light, it’s important to choose a lighting source that is bright enough to illuminate your work area, e.g., miniature painting space, as well as affect your mood, attention and ability to focus.

This means choosing lighting that emits more than 800-1000 lumens, which a few studies show can significantly and beneficially affect cognitive function and psyche.

Psychological Reasons to Use Good Hobby Lighting: Motivation and Focus - motivation and focus for hobbies and miniature painting - neatfi lamp above down image
My Neatfi XL lamp is a workhorse! It cranks out a whopping 2,200 lumens in a diffuse glow over my hobby workspace.

Also, keep in mind that you’ll probably want to utilize a system that produces soft, diffused light in order to take the harsh, direct light away from your eyes. Eye strain is a real problem for those of us who spend hours working on small surfaces with fine detail.

For more about proper lighting of your hobby space, you can check out this hobby lighting guide with a review of popular lamps that many hobbyists recommend.

For those who want to jump ahead to what I use for my professional miniature painting work, check out my review of the Neatfi XL task lamp and its related lighting systems.


A Warning About Focused Task Lighting for Painting Miniatures

Task lighting is another great option for getting bright light into your hobby room. Task lighting is a type of lighting that is designed to provide focused light on a specific area.

This can be helpful if you’re working on a project that requires precision or if you simply want to be able to see what you’re doing more clearly.

Psychological Reasons to Use Good Hobby Lighting: Motivation and Focus - motivation and focus for hobbies and miniature painting - OSL eye painting stone base
…Not this kind of eye strain. Could you imagine your eyes emitting their own glow? Or, rather, how about dark vision (e.g., a DND reference)

However, some smaller, highly focused task lights tend to focus a lot of light in a small area. This can lead to eye strain, fatigue, and even headaches, if you’re working in longer sessions.

You can find some relief for eye strain with these de-stressing tips. But, in general, I find that a small, bright task lamp makes for a great secondary light source in the hobby room, rather than the primary light. Task lamps are wonderful as a quick, lighter duty hobby lamp.


The Best Lighting for Your Hobby Room: A Bright, Diffuse Light Source

The best lighting for your hobby room is a bright, diffuse light source. This can be natural light from a large window, augmented by a task lamp, or it can be artificial light from a lamp with a daylight spectrum bulb or LED.

If you do decide to use task lighting, I recommend using it in combination with other lighting sources, such as another diffuse illuminating lamp or overhead lights. This will help to reduce the amount of strain on your eyes and give you the best possible light for working on your latest project.

Here is a summary on how to get the most out of your hobby light source:

  1. Make sure that you have a bright enough lamp that brings enough light to your work area. Not only will this help you see contrast on your working surface, but it can help you maintain motivation and focus.
  2. Try to use a diffuse, soft light source. Without hard reflections and shadows, you’ll have a more comfortable time. In other words, you won’t be squinting and those eye strain issues mentioned above won’t creep into your head.
  3. If you’re using desktop task lighting, try to make sure to use it in combination with other light sources. There’s nothing wrong with using multiple lamps. Note: If you’re a photographer or concerned about color accuracy in your work, then using lamps that emit light with the same color temperature will produce the best results.
Psychological Reasons to Use Good Hobby Lighting: Motivation and Focus - motivation and focus for hobbies and miniature painting - focused light from above on space marine warhammer
Good lighting helps you focus on the important things. It can also tell a story, or help you see the narrative between the lines, or within a miniature’s 3D complexity. To the philosopher, Light and Truth go together. For the professional artist, light can simply help you be more productive.

Conclusion

Motivation, focus, and productivity: these are all important things when it comes to working on projects in your hobby space. And good lighting can help improve all of them. So if you’re ever feeling low in any of these aspects, just remember to check your lighting. It could be the simple solution you need to get back on track.

Are you a fan of using bright light when working on your hobbies? Do you have any tips or tricks for getting the most out of your light source? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy miniature painting!

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