How to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder at the Office
Winter is approaching and many are dreading the doldrums that come with the season.
Studies suggest that approximately 6 percent of Americans have Seasonal Affective Disorder, commonly known as SAD. A close relative of this is “the winter blues.” This milder form of SAD affects an additional 14 percent.
SAD is a documented medical condition that triggers depression during the colder months. Physicians say that the lack of natural sunlight is the primary cause of this seasonal depression. It is a disorder that can affect every aspect of a person’s life and reduces productivity at work as well. With the flu already hurting office productivity during the winter, SAD can only slow things down even more.
Many people find it difficult to get motivated, and some may feel stuck in their daily routines. During the spring and summer months there is an abundance of activities to choose from. After early fall though, the festivals and fairs fall by the wayside. Cold weather may also be a contributing factor that prevents individuals from participating in them.
Some of the symptoms that individuals who suffer from SAD may experience are:
- Lack of concentration/focus
- Depression, or feeling “down”
- Low energy
- Gaining weight
- Lack of motivation, especially in the morning
- Withdrawing from others
So, how can employers not only acknowledge their employees who have SAD but also encourage their staff to be more productive during working hours? Below are a few suggestions that employers may want to consider:
Provide Healthy Lunch Options
Lunch meetings or catered food can be helpful at times, but they can also cause some sluggish behavior afterwards. Those heavy food options during the lunch only make things worse.
Along with baked ziti, pizza or baked chicken smothered in gravy, offer veggies and dip, garden salad, or roasted vegetables. Serve a fruit tray along with bagels and donuts at your morning meetings.
You may also consider stocking packets of steel-cut oatmeal in the break room for a healthy carb alternative to the sweet muffins and donuts. Healthy carbs produce the feel-good hormone, serotonin. Healthy breakfasts are important for individuals who have SAD.
Alternate Seating Within the Office
The lack of consistent sunlight can be a major problem for employees with SAD. Try switching up the desks, so employees who have “the winter blues” can sit by a window.
If this isn’t possible because there are cubicles in the office, add light therapy or consider floating desks for your employees to use so they can maneuver to sunny areas in the office.
Allow for Walking Breaks
Daylight lasts for much less time in the winter and most employees are working during those few hours. Walking breaks let the staff stretch their legs and get some sun during daylight hours.
Natural light is the best therapy for people who have “the winter blues.” As an employer, you may suggest outdoor meetings, such as a walking meeting.
Encourage coffee breaks so that employees can bask in the sunshine.
Did you know that just 10 minutes of sun exposure helps the skin absorb essential vitamin D? That small amount of time in the sun will improve mental focus and clarity for the rest of the day.
Taking in natural light, even on a cloudy day has substantial benefits to those who suffer from SAD. Even just walking around the block a few times will help workers feel happier and be more productive, not only in their professional life but their personal life as well.
So, make efforts to care for your employees and boost their health. They will feel valued and appreciated and are more likely to be content at the office which leads to better focus and employee performance.
Are you still looking for information to improve health, both mental and physical, throughout the office? Passport Health can help! Book an appointment at a local clinic by calling or fill out a contact form now.
Written for Passport Health by Sabrina Cortes. Sabrina is a freelance writer with a Bachelor’s Degree from Georgian Court University. She currently lives in the Smokey Mountains of western North Carolina.