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5 Ways to Fight Winter Blues in the Workplace

March 6, 2018 / Corporate Wellness

If you’re feeling the winter doldrums, your people are too. Winter blues in the workplace are all too common, affecting 1 in 4 individuals, particularly women. Manifestations of winter sadness often include food cravings, decreased sexual appetite, sleepiness, and general moodiness. These symptoms make it harder to get to work on time, and more difficult to be productive and engaged in the office.

Luckily, winter blues can be mitigated, both in the workplace and at home. Here are five scientifically proven methods of mood-boosting during the greyer months of the year:

#1 Chocolate

Yes, for real. According to Dartmouth University, chocolate is a powerful mood booster and been shown to increase pleasant feelings and decrease tension. Plus, it’s delicious.

Tip: Make right-sized servings of dark chocolate available in the workplace. Think small, individually-wrapped squares. Encourage your employees to grab a piece for a mood boost, or even change out the variety monthly to keep it fun. Though, we have a feeling your staff won’t need much convincing on this one.

#2 Afternoon Group Walk

A little bit of exercise and time outside can dramatically impact mood and reduce stress, even  on a cold day. Walking outside in the winter can also increase creativity, as walking encourages a free-flow of ideas.

Tip: Share an email with your organization inviting them on a daily ten-minute walk, whether it’s just around the building, around the block, or down the street. Make sure managers re-iterate that their team is welcome to join, and encourage leadership to participate to lead the way.

#3 Make Time for Tea

According to the UK’s National Health Service, warm drinks and meals not only keep you warm, but also help banish the winter blues. Tea not only keeps people warm, but has a little bit of caffeine which is shown to boost mood. While most offices offer coffee, it’s worth taking a page from our English neighbors’ book with an afternoon tea.

Tip: Offer a variety of tea options and reusable mugs (rather than paper). Invite your organization to grab an afternoon cup of tea before a meeting or while working at their desks.  If appropriate, encourage employees to bring in their own mugs from home, which will bring personality and a feeling of coziness.

#4 Helping Others

According to a Harvard Medical School Special Health Report, the more people volunteer the happier they become. As a matter of fact, odds of describing yourself as a “very happy person” increase 7% for monthly volunteers and 12% for those that volunteer more than once a month.

Tip: Find small ways to give back to the community within working hours. Whether that’s assembling lunches for an after-school program or donating unused toiletries to a women’s shelter. These small acts of kindness in the day allows employees to give back and come together as a group.

#5 Trying Something New

According to Sue Pavlovich of the Seasonal Affective Disorder Association (SADA), trying something new keeps your mind active, and wards off symptoms of the winter blues.

Tip: See what your organization is interested in, and then start an informal club. This might mean a restaurant club to try new foods, or a bowling night, or even a group that orders lunch from somewhere different twice a month. Not only will this foster connectivity, but individuals will reap the novelty and excitement of trying something outside their routine.

Important note: While winter blues are common and can be lessened, they are not to be confused with Seasonal Affective Disorder which is more severe, and may require medical attention.

According to Michael Terman, PhD and Director of the Winter Depression Program at New York Psychiatric Institute, “While a person with winter doldrums may have difficulty waking up or getting out of bed at times, someone with seasonal affective disorder can’t get to work on time.” Learn more about Seasonal Affective Disorder here.

Further Reading:

2018 Predictions in Wellbeing and Engagement
Thrive Summit 2018: Join Hundreds of HR Leaders in the ‘Happiest City to Work’
How Habits Really Work


Renee Mitson Circle Photo

Renee Mitson is the Senior Manager of Content Marketing at Virgin Pulse. She loves living in Providence, and enjoys cycling and eating spicy food (but not at the same time). 

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