Do the winter blues affect performance?
Who is affected by the winter blues? – Research shows that about 20% of the population are affected by SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). So if you are not affected by it yourself, you can guarantee that some of your colleagues, clients, friends and family are. Of course, the nearer you are to the equator the less you will experience it, but that does not really help those of us who live far away from it. The symptoms can vary from lethargy, difficulty in getting up in the mornings, poor concentration, moodiness, lack of enjoyment in life and at work and a craving for ‘comfort’ foods. If it is not recognised and if people don’t take action to counteract it, there can be an impact on people’s ability to cope with pressure, be creative and productive.
Are you or do you know someone affected by SAD? What are the symptoms and impact on your or their behaviour?
Beating the winter blues at work – In any office some people will be experiencing SAD and this can impact on working relationships and productivity. However, if you work on your own and you suffer from the winter blues it is even more important to take action to beat it, as there is no-one to jolly you along or cover for you. Here are some tried and tested ideas to help you with the winter blues:
Light boxes do work and they have also come down in price. I have heard from many people that by using them they have gained a huge benefit in terms of their mood and energy levels in the winter months. All you need to do is sit reading, working or eating in front of one for 30 minutes a day for them to have an impact.
Encourage everyone (or yourself) to walk around the block during daylight hours even on cloudy days, as this will give you enough light to counter the winter blues.
Create some fun activities to create energy in the team or organise treats and outings to ensure you have something to look forward to.
Be aware of those who are suffering – match, pace and support them – it is a real condition, so don’t dismiss it. Supporting them to identify actions they can take to help them beat the winter blues will have a positive affect on their lives both in and out of work.
If it is you who suffer from SAD, even mildly, cut yourself some slack and avoid beating yourself up about it as that will only make you feel worse. Instead, take some of the actions listed in this newsletter to assist you in dealing with it.
Create some winter sunshine in your office or home – I’ve read that just sitting and looking out of a window in the winter can help – this might explain why over the last few years I have not suffered so badly from the winter blues since I moved my desk so that I face a large window, which I often look out of when I am on the phone or even typing (a benefit of being able to touch type!).
Plant some winter flowers or have flowers in the office – I work from home and have brightened my usually colourless winter garden by planting beautiful cyclamen.
What two or three things can you do that will help you to beat the winter blues?
Do you want to hibernate? – Before the advent of electricity we humans almost did hibernate during the winter, outside of daylight hours. There is a natural tendency to want to draw the curtains, snuggle up and wait for spring. Of course, most of us can’t do this, but fighting the desire to hibernate the whole time could be counterproductive. Actively choosing some hibernation time can be a positive move. While writing this I looked at the coming weekend and there were lots of things to do, but Sunday afternoon was free and it was due to rain heavily, so I thought ‘Great, I can snuggle up on the sofa, watch a movie and enjoy a short bit of hibernation!’
When can you engage in a bit of positive winter hibernation?
What do you enjoy about winter? – Instead of focussing on what you hate about winter think about all the things you enjoy about it that you don’t tend to do or are not able to enjoy at other times of the year. For example:
- crisp winter walks
- frost covered trees and plants
- warming yourself up having been out in the cold
- candlelit evenings – a bit hard to do in the summer when it is light at 11pm!
- going to the cinema (seems a waste to do it in the summer)
- scrummy winter soups
- warm winter slippers
- curling up with a furry hot water bottle.
What do you enjoy about winter? What can you do to make the most of these things?
Do you want assistance to perform effectively and enjoy your work? Grovelands provides individuals, business partnerships, SMEs and national organisations with:
- Consultancy advice
- 1:1 coaching and mentoring
- in-house and public workshops
Call 01865 377334 or email firstname.lastname@example.org arrange a time to speak in confidence. For more information about Grovelands visit our website: www.grovelands.org.uk