Don’t be SAD. Seasonal Affective Disorder can definitely wreak havoc on a person’s mood. It’s not unusual for this low energy level to affect people during the drawn-out winter months until the days begin to get longer and we see more daylight. Many people get up when it’s dark and by the time they leave the office to go home, it’s already dark again. It’s no wonder that these winter blues can affect productivity and creativity. People who suffer from SAD symptoms can experience lower concentration levels, lack of interest or engagement, and sluggishness throughout the day. Even as an employer you might feel these symptoms, but there are ways to ease the suffering within your workplace.
- Get people moving. Encourage your staff to buddy up and take an outdoor walking break during lunch or a coffee break outside earlier in the day. Make these into impromptu meetings and discuss team info so that the group doesn’t feel guilty about getting away from their desks and into the daylight. Our bodies need to experience sunshine or natural daylight, even if it’s just for a brief amount of time.
- If the workload allows it, suggest that people stagger their hours. Maybe once a week they can leave early while it’s still light out, or come in a little later. As long as the work gets done and meetings are attended, having some leeway in the schedule can be a very positive thing. In addition, some flexibility in hours can give employees an opportunity to do other things that can help get them through the harsh winter months such as attend an exercise class, meditation group, or therapy session.
- Offer healthier snacks. Even though the candy container on the desk is a huge hit, this time of year it’s important to make more of an effort to maintain a healthy diet. Consider offering your team comforting herbal teas, veggie snacks, or fresh apples and oranges. It’s a small gesture that takes little effort, but brings in a great deal of appreciation and rewards.
- Make it a team effort. Encourage team members to talk openly to you (or each other) about how the darkness affects them. Perhaps initiate a challenge to see who can put in the most miles during a lunchtime walk, or who can come up with unique and interesting ways to counteract the low moods.
- Explore offering services within the workplace such as chair massages, a yoga or stretch class, or even an interesting lecture or event to break up the monotony of the mood. Some people cope with SAD by using a light box that simulates sunlight. Short of going that extra mile to buy your staff light boxes, go out of your way to book your team meetings in conference rooms with windows or skylights, or a cafeteria that’s surrounded by a courtyard.
Obviously, there’s nothing we can do about the natural cycle of the seasons and the amount of daylight during any given day. But little things like the 5 strategies offered here can certainly take some of the edge off until one day you notice that it’s no longer dark out when you leave the office and head home.
Contact us. We’re here to help. MassHire Cape & Islands Career Center 508-771-JOBS (5627)