The NHS estimates that one in 15 people in the UK are affected by seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression that occurs during winter months that is thought to be caused by a lack of light. With the fallout from the Christmas season (celebration and splurges followed by cold weather and empty bank accounts), it’s no surprise that Friends Life‘s recent survey has revealed that 60% of respondents think winter is the most stressful time of the year.
Stress at work was identified as a big stressor. Topping the list of most common worries was the volume of work (21%), and long hours (11%). And while healthy pressure can motivate employees to do their best, the combination of a long winter and a pile of work can bring down office morale and productivity.
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If you’re looking for a way to fight a case of the winter blues at work, we’ve compiled five ways to keep your focus forward and fixed on the sunny days ahead.
1. Nurture something green
Keep a plant on your desk and take care of it on a daily basis. At Changeboard, every windowsill has a potted plant; paired with our signature green grass and dandelion branding, the office looks like spring every day and it’s great for lifting spirits.
There are also health benefits associated with keeping plants indoors. They have air-purifying qualities, which reduce a multitude of harmful toxins while increasing oxygen levels, and studies by Virginia Lohr at Washington State University have shown that plants positioned close to computer monitors actually reduce blood pressure by between one and four units, while increasing reaction times by 12%.
2. Take a walk when the sun comes out (or get a sun lamp)
If SAD is partly caused by a lack of natural light due to shortened days, why not take advantage of sunny lunch hours and go for a walk? Taking some time away from your desk will give you a rest from the computer, provide you with some fresh air, and expose you to some much-needed UV rays.
If a walk is out of the question, there are tons of light therapy products that can help. SAD lamps are said to increase your serotonin levels , which fall during the winter, and can be used in the office or at home.
3. Treat yourself to a sunny holiday in the winter
Many sun worshipers take time out to visit locations south of the equator to get their sun fix. If you can afford it, using your holiday time in the winter may be what you need to make it to spring.
4. Create an office countdown for the first day of spring
Chances are other people in the office are suffering from the bad-weather blues, too. Starting an office-wide conversation around everyone’s plans for when the warm returns will create a connection between team members and give everyone something to look forward to.
5. Keep a photo frame or collage of your holiday on your desk
When you’re feeling a bit blue, sometimes it seems like you’ll never feel good again. Having a visual of a time when you were happy and relaxed will serve as a reminder for all the good times and motivate you to plan for more.
If you’re suffering from SAD, it’s advisable to consult your GP – the disorder is a real mental health issue that affects many and should be treated professionally.