Battling With Winter Blues At Work: How to Deal With It?
Winter is almost here. Some romanticize the season, while some barely pull through it. As winter begins, the gloomy mornings make it hard to kickstart the day on a positive note.
Do the unpleasantly icy cold days, followed by the cold nights, make you unproductive at work? Or do you find yourself struggling to maintain energy levels during winter?
If yes, you may have the winter blues. Worry not; you can get rid of them by following simple steps. But before that, it is important to understand what they are.
What are Winter Blues?
The weather transition from warm to cold can affect a person in many ways. This time of the year is known to bring in prominent mood changes and more.
To feel "the winter blues" is when you feel low and lack the motivation to work due to cold weather. In other terms, winter blues are how the cold season negatively impacts your emotional well-being.
It is not a medical diagnosis per se. It is a temporary shift in mood due to winter. Someone experiencing winter blues may find it tough to initiate and finish certain tasks.
However, do not confuse this with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder are slightly different from winter blues.
Here is a list of common symptoms that people with winter blues experience.
Winter Blues Symptoms
- You are feeling low or sad without any direct reason.
- You are unable to find the motivation to achieve targets at work.
- You find it hard to fall asleep.
- Getting out of bed is a huge task for you.
- You feel anxious or lethargic unusually.
If you are wondering about the Seasonal Affective Disorder symptoms and how it differs from winter blues, here is a snippet.
How does SAD differ from Winter Blues?
Unlike winter blues, SAD is a clinical disorder recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Someone with SAD may feel depressed most of the day, feel hopeless, and lack the spirit to complete daily tasks. The striking difference between the two is that SAD can develop during the summer too.
Winter blues are something that can be self-treated. Treating SAD requires consultation with a mental health professional along with lifestyle changes.
How to Beat Winter Blues?
Bidding goodbye to winter blues is simple. Tweaking your current lifestyle is the key to shaking off the winter blues.
1. Switch to a healthier diet
Start consuming a balanced diet. Include seasonal fruits and vegetables in your daily meals. According to a study, consuming fruits and vegetables uplifts your well-being and happiness. To garner maximum benefit, keep your office lunches as healthy as possible.
Due to less mobility, many experience weight gain during winter. Try to reduce your carb intake, which is one of the biggest causes of gaining weight. Consume food items like nuts, beans, peas, lentils, white meat, and tofu as much as possible.
2. Incorporate exercise into your daily routine
Research shows that staying physically active directly impacts one's mood. How? Performing any exercise leads to the release of happy hormones known as endorphins. As the name suggests, these hormones instill feelings of happiness and contentment.
If you are not very active, you can start with brisk walks for 15 minutes only. With time, you can increase the duration to 30 minutes or more.
If not walking, you can take up any physical activity, such as stretching or yoga. The primary goal is spending time doing something that helps elevate your mood.
To get external motivation, you can install a fitness tracker on your smartphone. With this, you will be able to keep track of calories burnt, BMI, and activity rate. This, in turn, may prompt you to remain physically active in the upcoming days.
3. Power up with Vitamin D additives
The absorption of Vitamin D decreases during winter due to the low sunlight. Vitamin D plays a big role in regulating your mood. To reap its benefits, consume Vitamin D-rich food such as Tuna, Salmon, Egg yolk, and oranges.
You can also start taking vitamin D supplements as an added benefit. The dosage for an average adult is 10 - 20 micrograms. However, it is advisable that you consult with a health professional first regarding this.
4. Bask under the winter sun during the weekend
The winter sun comparatively softens. Yet, basking under the sun is the best way to receive Vitamin D naturally. The optimum duration of sunbathing is 5 to 10 minutes.
Exposure to the sun longer than this may lead to sunburn, even during winter. Application of sunscreen lotion of at least SPF 30 is advisable.
Vitamin D is also responsible for regulating the sleep cycle. And with a disrupted sleep cycle, one tends to wake up cranky and low in energy the next morning. Try sunbathing this winter, retain your circadian rhythm, and save yourself from the winter blues.
5. Consider light therapy if required
For the days when the weather deteriorates and there is minimal sunlight, you can opt for light therapy.
Light therapy involves the use of lamps or light boxes as sunlight alternatives. To practice this at home, you can purchase or rent a light therapy lamp with 10,000 lux intensity. Follow the instructions given in the box and start the therapy.
As you go through the therapy, you can carry out any activity of your liking, such as reading a book or watching a TV series. Make sure to practice not more than 30 minutes per day.
6. Make your workstation positive
Your surroundings influence your mood to a great extent. And since you spend ample time working, keep a neat desk with minimal decor.
7. Take tea/coffee breaks at work
Spending time with your peers at work over tea/coffee breaks may help you relax mentally and physically. Moreover, the consumption of tea and coffee is known to have mood-altering effects. But overindulging in these drinks can make you feel irritated and agitated due to the caffeine content.
8. Catch up with friends
Having heart-to-heart conversations with close friends is the best way to improve your mood. After work, plan to catch up with your friends and have scrumptious meals. After all, good food contributes to a good mood.
9. Train your internal clock
To get your internal body clock on track, make use of an alarm clock. Maintain a wake and sleep cycle to trick your body to adapt the sleep schedule. As you regularize the sleep cycle, your body releases serotonin, which promotes a good mood.
In addition to this, wearable fitness trackers nowadays record your sleep data. Wear one to get a gist of your sleep quality every night.
The change in seasons is nothing new, yet we somehow feel blue. As if Monday blues aren't enough to make us feel sluggish, winter brings in additional blues. The positive note here is you can get rid of winter blues simply by making certain lifestyle changes.
Embrace the tips mentioned above and keep the winter blues out of sight. And let the wheels of productivity churn at work.
Contact a mental health expert if you feel you may have signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Treatment for SAD involves types of treatment as recommended by the professional.
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