Cold, gloomy weather. Holiday bills arriving in the mail. New Year’s resolutions that are starting to fray. It’s no wonder that many of your workers may be suffering from the winter blues. Some may even get seasonal affective disorder (SAD), episodes of depression that occur at a certain time of the year, usually during winter.
The Canadian Mental Health Association offers five simple ways that employers can help their workers counter the effects of the winter blues:
1. See the light. On sunny days, encourage workers to go outside during their lunch and breaks. Even a few minutes of sunlight helps improve mood and energy levels. While they’re out there, workers can boost some feel-good chemicals by taking a brisk walk around the block.
2. Help workers eat right. Supply healthy snacks, such as nuts, fruits and vegetables, that provide slow-burning energy that keeps mood and energy levels steady.
3. Chit-chat around the water cooler. Not only is water great for replenishing brain cells, but the cooler is often where workers can talk and connect about work, stresses and each others’ lives. Social support is important in building resilience to any kind of mental health trouble, so encourage connectedness and team-building.
4. Allow flexible scheduling. Consider allowing staff to work additional hours during the week so they can leave early on Friday.
5. Provide information and support. Supply workers with information about the winter blues, such as through lunch-and-learn sessions, and encourage them to contact the employee assistance program (EAP) if they feel their moods are interfering with their lives, either at work or at home.
For more information on mental health and safety in the workplace, go the Psychological Safety Compliance Center.