The days are shorter, the weather is colder, and we’re all cooped up inside. It’s common during this time of year to feel a little depressed. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also known as winter depression, is related to changes in the season that affect mood. Even if you don’t suffer from a severe form of this, it’s common to get the winter blues this time of year. Unfortunately, this can affect the workplace. Employees may feel less motivated to work, have trouble concentrating, a loss of energy, or more. What can you do to ensure that the workplace remains a positive, productive environment?
Find your place in the sun.
What Employees Can Do: Spending time in the sun naturally increases serotonin levels, provides Vitamin D, improves the quality of your sleep, and eases mild depression. Particularly during winter months, make an effort to get outside more. Take a walk during your lunch break; make sure your blinds are open at work and at home; and try to spend some time on weekends doing an outdoor activity.
What Employers Can Do: If possible, try slight variations in work schedules. Often during the winter months, when employees get home, it’s already dark. Try offering a schedule where employees can choose to come in earlier, but also leave earlier when they still have some time to enjoy daylight hours. Or, offer longer lunch options so employees have time to make sure they’re getting plenty of that Vitamin D.
Shed light on it.
What Employees Can Do: If you can’t get in the sun as much as you’d like, try to find other ways to brighten your day. For instance, during the winter, many of us aren’t getting enough of Vitamin D. Try eating more fish, eggs, and milk, which are all significant sources of the important vitamin.
What Employers Can Do: Try to put more light into the workplace by making sure areas are well lit and, when possible, near windows that can let sunlight in during the day. If this isn’t possible, consider investing in a light box, with mimics outdoor light, which can be helpful for those with winter depression.
Make a move.
What Employees Can Do: Exercise can be good for any kind of depression. It improves health, boosts your mood, and can be a good distraction. Although it’s difficult to motivate yourself to exercise when you’re depressed, once you get moving, you’ll feel better. Make an effort to get in the habit of exercising. (If you can exercise outside, that’s even better!)
What Employers Can Do: Encourage employees to exercise by offering flexible schedules, company fitness incentives, or group discounts at the local gym.
Making an effort to find the bright side of the winter months will pay off with happier employees, which will improve productivity and make the workplace a more positive place.