January is Mental Health Month and a great time to raise awareness of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or winter depression. SAD occurs during winter months due to decreased levels of sunlight and can cause feelings of sadness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and irritability. As the days become shorter and darker, it can be difficult to stay positive throughout the cold winter months. Fortunately, there are many things you can do in the workplace to help combat SAD and keep your mental health in check.
Light Therapy-One of the most popular treatments for SAD is light therapy. This involves spending time each day exposed to artificial bright light which helps increase serotonin levels in the brain that may have been decreased by lack of sunlight. While this isn’t always feasible at work due to office lighting conditions, you may consider investing in a special lamp specifically designed for treating SAD. If this isn’t possible, try taking regular breaks throughout the day where you go outside for some natural daylight exposure or spend time near a window inside your office building.
Click this link to learn more about the benefits of light therapy (Harvard Health Publishing, 2022).
Exercise –Physical activity releases endorphins which are hormones responsible for making people feel good about themselves and can boost moods even on dreary days. Exercise does not need to be overly taxing – even simple activities like taking a walk around your workplace or stretching at your desk can help alleviate depressive symptoms associated with SAD. Consider joining an exercise class or recruiting colleagues to go outdoors together – physical activity is much more enjoyable when shared with other people!
Manage Stress Levels –Stress often exacerbates symptoms of anxiety and depression so it’s important that we take steps towards reducing our stress levels during this season as well as all year round. Small changes such as getting enough sleep, taking regular breaks throughout the day, eating healthy meals, and engaging in relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga can make a big difference when managing stress levels in the workplace.
Seasonal Affective Disorder affects many people during winter months but there are many strategies we can use both in and out of work to help prevent its onset or keep its effects from being too severe. Light therapy, exercise, and stress management techniques are all key components that should be incorporated into our daily lives over wintertime for improved mental health outcomes across our workplaces and communities alike!
If you are struggling with SAD, make sure to take advantage of the abundance of natural sunlight in your private office at 1628. Each private office and conference room has access to natural light to help you be most productive, especially during these hard winter months. Book a tour today to see for yourself!