Don't be SAD, spring will come: Seasonal Affective Disorder in the workplace

January 04, 2021 | SECURA Insurance

With winter in full swing, it’s not uncommon to feel sluggish and irritable due to the darker mornings, earlier nights, cold weather, and often gray days.

For some, however, winter can trigger a serious form of depression known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Approximately six percent of Americans suffer from SAD, with another 14 percent suffering from a much milder form of the seasonal disorder called “the winter blues.”

Symptoms of SAD include:

  • Low mood
  • Decreased energy levels
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Low self-esteem
  • Weight gain
  • Loss of interest in normal daily activities
  • Extreme difficulty getting out of bed and starting the day

SAD can be a disruptor to productivity in the workplace so it is important for employers to recognize the symptoms and implement strategies to help prevent SAD, as well as help those who are affected cope.

  1. Take advantage of the natural light. Keep the blinds on your windows open and encourage your staff to take regular breaks from their desks for a change of scenery. If feasible, reposition desks of affected employees near natural light sources or encourage the use of light boxes, which simulate exposure to sunlight.
  2. Offer flexible work schedules. Flexible work schedules can be positive for both the employee dealing with SAD as well as the employer. By altering their hours, it allows the employee to gain a little more daylight before the work day is over which can result in increased productivity.
  3. Provide healthy eating options. Weight gain and an increased appetite are often symptoms associated with SAD. Consider offering your employees free healthy snacks and warm beverages to keep them energized and refreshed. 
  4. Offer opportunities to de-stress. Host events for your employees outside of the office to allow for socializing and a break from the day-to-day tasks at work.
  5. Promote your Employee Assistance Program (EAP). EAP’s offer your employees free and confidential access to counselors that can help affected employees manage their winter blues in an emotionally healthy way. To learn more about Employee Assistance Programs and how to implement one in your office, click here.

While winter is unavoidable, applying these five tips can help make it just a little more bearable for your employees.