The beginning of a new year means many different things for people in the workforce – for some, perhaps the start of a new career or expanding a team and business for others, maybe it’s focusing on self-care and nailing those resolutions. Whatever it means for each individual, there is one thing that each of us in the UK will have in common – the season. Each year, winter doesn’t just bring in cold and elevated heating usage, as the temperature plummets and the days grow shorter, energy levels and more at work may be in decline, too.
So, what causes this drop? Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), or more colloquially known as the winter blues affects around 2 million people in the UK. Some of the symptoms may include lethargy, depression and being unsociable. It’s unclear what causes these symptoms to manifest in individuals, but some things that may come into play are your biological clock, serotonin levels, and melatonin levels. As such, these symptoms may influence an individual’s working life.
But what can be done about it? There are steps that both the employee and employer can take to try and mitigate the impact of the season on their personal and professional lives.
- Get outside during daylight
For employees: Whilst it may be tempting to spend your break inside a warm office, getting out for a quick walk can do wonders for your mental health. As a lower mood during winter months is thought to be linked to short days and less exposure to sunlight, getting outside can help to counteract this phenomenon.
For employers: Encouraging employees to get out during daylight will not only help to boost your employee’s mental health, but it will also help to improve productivity.
- Brighten your environment!
For employees: Again, as a lower mood is linked to less sunlight, working in an environment where there is ample sunlight can help to elevate moods. If you are working from home, try and work in a room with lots of natural light or next to a window. Same goes for the office. Throw open those blinds and drink in the bit of sunlight available!
For employers: Whilst it would not be sustainable to up and move office for the winter season. There are options for opening up the blinds and prioritising meeting rooms with lots of natural light.
For employees: Whilst the winter months can make you feel more lethargic and unmotivated, exercise is a great way to lift your spirits. The NHS recommends that “Adults should do some type of physical activity every day”. So, whether you opt to take the longer route to the station or choose to wind the day in with Yoga, exercise is a great way to feel good.
For employers: Instead of company drinks, a companywide exercise event is a great way to lift spirts and highlight the benefit of exercise.
Most important of all, remember that the cold and darkness won’t last forever! By mid-February, we’ll be adding three minutes of sunlight to each day so brave the season while you can because shorts and sunnies are right around the corner!