David Price, CEO and workplace wellbeing expert at Health Assured offers advice on how to combat SAD in your workplace
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is more than just the ‘winter blues’ or, ironically, a feeling of sadness, it is a major depressive disorder brought about by the lengthening periods of darkness. It causes lethargy, low energy, difficulty waking up in the mornings and decreased concentration. It’s a serious issue and one that can have drastic effects on productivity in the winter months.
It’s a good idea for employers to be on top of things that can affect people’s wellbeing so seriously. Happier employees are better at their work, and you only have to make small changes to accommodate those with seasonal depression. Here are a few ways to help cope with the encroaching evening darkness.
- More light: some offices are rather dark and dreary places, especially when the sun starts setting earlier and earlier. And some people find themselves seated at desks and cubicles situated far from the nearest source of natural light. Try rearranging your floor plan to maximise the natural light available, and consider moving people suffering SAD closer to windows.
- Encourage more outdoor time: employees should be taking lunch away from their desks in all offices. Time away from your desk helps clear the mind, reset and means you can attack the afternoon’s tasks afresh. But try encouraging people to go further than just the staff kitchen. Assuming the winter weather isn’t too harsh, lunchtime can be well-spent going for a quick walk around the block. It’s about getting as much sunlight and positivity into the workday as possible. Short outdoor meetings and coffee runs should help.
- Help out with health: SAD can wreak havoc on appetite, and this causes weight gain, and this can make the associated depression harder to deal with. Try providing healthier snacking options during the winter months, diet drinks, herbal teas.
- Even more light: A lot of people suffering SAD benefit greatly from a SAD lamp or light box. A light box is a form of light therapy which uses fluorescent lights to simulate natural sun. It’s effective and recommended by the NHS.
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