Employers can help beat the winter blues

Katie Smith
Katie Smith

As the days shorten and weather chills, it becomes harder to keep motivated to maintain a wellness routine.The combination leaves many of us some feeling sad or even depressed.

Seasonal affective disorder — more commonly described as the winter blues — is characterized as feeling depressed and sluggish and could result in low energy, weight gain, trouble sleeping and difficulty concentrating. These signs and symptoms ultimately could result in a less productive and engaged staff.

While trying to beat the winter blues might seem like a daunting task when rolling out of bed constitutes a chore, there are steps employers can take to help their employees.

Establish a wellness routine. Your routine should include ways to maximize the sunshine outside, focus on proper nutrition and include time for activities you look forward to and enjoy. As a business, you can use this as an opportunity to stage fun team-building events that lift everyone’s spirits .

Focus on health. Eating well, exercising and getting enough sleep are all priorities. Taking a brisk walk outdoors during a coffee break or offering walking meetings not only capitalize on the limited daylight, but also allow for a brief brain break. Exercise releases endorphins that leave you feeling recharged and refreshed.

The Mayo Clinic and National Institute of Mental Health both recommend that individuals suffering from the winter blues to increase their Vitamin D and try light therapy. What better way to do this than during the workday? Employers should strive to use natural light as much as possible by pulling up the blinds or rearranging the office so employees gain more access to natural light. Another option would be to add light boxes to provide artificial white light and replace the sunshine lost during shorter winter days. These devices are sometimes referred to as “happy boxes” and can help boost employee performance and satisfaction without the hassle and expense of installing windows or remodeling the office.

Along with better lighting, adding greenery to the workspace can promote employee wellness. Plants can filter and clean the air and reduce stress. Green office spaces have been shown to boost productivity.   

As an employer, you can’t address all the aspects of preventing seasonal affective disorder in your workplace. But you can take steps to improve your work environment to help those suffering from the winter blues. Concentrate on employee health this season to beat the blues and other illnesses lingering in the workplace.