Have you seen an increase in your absence rates this winter? Did you find it hard to get up and out of bed today? Did your employees just want to stay at home today? Are we all suffering with the “Winter Blues”?

Winter blues are considered to include mild depression, lack of motivation and low energy.SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is a type of winter depression that affects an estimated 7% of the population every winter especially during December, January and February.

Typical symptoms include:

  • Depression
  • Sleep Problems
  • Lethargy
  • Over-eating
  • Loss of Concentration
  • Social Problems
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of Libido
  • Mood Changes

Luckily there are a lot of things we can do to beat the winter blues and get ourselves back to normal.

Key facts for preventing the winter blues and reducing sickness absence from work:

  1. Get some exercise – Researchhas shown that a daily one-hour walk, in the middle of the day, can be helpful for coping with the winter blues. However, any form of exercise will release endorphins which help you to feel better.
  2. Get some sunlight – Lack of sunlight can cause many people to become depressed without knowing why and in fact SAD has been linked to a deficiency in Vitamin D, which we mainly get from sunlight through the summer months. Sunlight exposure impacts the neurotransmitters in the brain that affect mood. Try and get out at least once a day to soak up the natural daylight, especially at midday and on bright days. With reduced sunlight in the winter months a healthy diet is essential.
  3. Eat healthily – A healthy diet will boost your mood and give you more energy, providing the vitamins you need to stay healthy. If you think you are deficient in any vitamins speak to a professional about the option of supplements or a dietician to improve your daily diet.
  4. Keep warm – Being cold makes you more depressed and it’s been shown that staying warm can reduce the winter blues by half. Keep warm through the winter with hot drinks, hot nourishing food and cosy blankets. Wear warm clothes and shoes and aim to keep your home between 18ºC and 21ºC.
  5. Take up a new hobby – Keeping your mind active can help with the symptoms of SAD. A new hobby or project will help you have something to look forward to and concentrate on.
  6. Be sociable – Don’t underestimate the power of friends, family, co-workers, and neighbours. Make an effort to keep in touch with people you care about and accept any invitations to social events, even if you only go for a little while. It will really help to lift your spirits!
  7. Talking therapy – Talking about the things that are getting you down can help lift the weight. This may include counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Speak to an advisor for more information.

If you would like to discuss our counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) services further or access our Occupational Health service, please get in touch with your HR Advisor or call our team on 01924 827869.

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