How to Prevent Winter Blues in the Workplace
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects 4-6% of Canadians in their lifetime, but another 15% experience a milder form of SAD. SAD is a type of depression which is related to the changes in seasons. Mayo Clinic says some of the “signs and symptoms may include: Having low energy, having problems with sleeping, having difficulty concentrating, feeling sluggish or agitated, feeling depressed most of the day – nearly every day”.
Since we are fairly far from the Equator in Canada, it is more likely that we will experience this disorder. With this year’s much colder temperatures, a lot of people are avoiding the outdoors which could also cause increased symptoms of SAD. If you or your coworkers are experiencing any level of ‘winter blues’ (no matter if it’s diagnosed as SAD or not), there are some things you can do which may help!
Many people have found that keeping a ‘daylight therapy’ lamp by their desk helps improve their mood and productivity. This technique has been used since the 1980s, and encourages using cool-white fluorescent lights (often about half an hour at an exposure of 10,000 lux) to simulate sunshine.
Also: If you have any blinds that are kept closed simply out of habit, try letting the sunlight in a little more!
Yoga, Tai Chi, Meditation, Music, Lavender sachets in the desk… There are a variety of techniques to use for relaxation in the office! Finding some new techniques to try, and sharing them with your coworkers will encourage more mindful relaxation moments.
Bonus: Remembering to use these techniques on particularly stressful or tiring days.
Think about posting stress management tips around the office! Little reminders can make a big difference in someone’s stress levels. Ultimately though, the change will come from everyone in the workplace modelling this behaviour.
Bonus: Bring in a workshop or speaker to discuss stress management in the workplace!
Try to take a few little breaks in the day to be outside – yes, you’ll need to bundle up. Yes, it will be worth it. Soaking up some sunlight and fresh air can help the brain focus, bring a new perspective to your day, and clear the mind!
Bonus: If you exercise while outside, even a brisk walk or a few jumping jacks, you’ll get added benefits of relieving stress and getting your heart pumping.
Extra Bonus: Did you get any vacation rollover days, or did you not use all of your vacation days last year? Take a little vacation if possible to get closer to the Equator for a little while!
We hope this winter season doesn’t feel too dreary for you and your workplace. Get in touch if you’d like some more suggestions on how to use your benefits in treating the Winter Blues (Psychotherapy, Massage, Medications, etc.)