Seasonal affective disorder

Managing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Managing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

In this article, Health and Safety expert, Adam Williams discusses Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and how to manage this.

Dark mornings, darker evenings, and chilly grey days in between mean winter is here – and with the coldest season come the winter blues. There’s no clinical diagnosis for the “winter blues,” but experts at the National Institutes of Health say the so-called winter blues are fairly common and are usually marked by feeling more down than usual, sad, less energised, or less interested in activities one usually enjoys.

It’s thought the winter blues, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), affects around 2 million people in the UK and it can affect people of any age.

Key symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) include:

  • depression
  • sleep problems
  • lethargy
  • overeating
  • irritability
  • feeling down and unsociable

How can we manage Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Keep Active

Research has shown that a daily one-hour walk in the middle of the day could be as helpful as light treatment for coping with the winter blues.

Get Outside

Go outdoors in natural daylight as much as possible, especially at midday and on brighter days. Inside your home, choose pale colours that reflect light from outside, and sit near windows whenever you can.

Keep Warm

If your symptoms are so bad that you can’t live a normal life, see your GP for medical help. Being cold makes you more depressed. It’s also been shown that staying warm can reduce the winter blues by half. Keep warm with hot drinks and hot food. Wear warm clothes and shoes and aim to keep your home between 18C and 21C (or 64F and 70F degrees).

Take up a new hobby

Keeping your mind active with a new interest seems to ward off symptoms of SAD.  It could be anything, such as playing bridge, singing, knitting, joining a gym, keeping a journal, or writing a blog. The important thing is that you have something to look forward to and concentrate on.

See your friends and family

It’s been shown that socialising is good for your mental health and helps ward off the winter blues. Make an effort to keep in touch with people you care about and accept any invitations you get to social events, even if you only go for a little while.

Talk it through

Talking treatments such as counselling, psychotherapy or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help you cope with symptoms. See your GP for information on what’s available locally on the NHS and privately.

Ways to boost your teams’ wellbeing this winter

Celebrate company and employee wins

While it’s important to celebrate a company milestone and give recognition to employees throughout the entire year, going above and beyond during the winter months will go a long way. 

Creating an environment where employee appreciation is the norm, will not only attract and retain top performers but will contribute to their overall wellbeing. So whether it’s a team dinner, award, or gift voucher, there are a whole host of ways to show your appreciation.

Ensure additional training is readily available to your teams

Providing training is key to being a great employer. So, whether it’s safety-related or something else, employees should be well aware of the training options available to them.  Ensuring employees are able to confidentially get any help they need and feel supported and protected is essential. In doing so, you are creating a safe working environment that will ultimately boost employee mental wellbeing through the winter and beyond. 

Provide wellness benefits 

Wellness benefits have become an integral part of corporate culture.

Although many corporations offer benefits, many businesses are still lacking them, so it’s worthwhile considering what you can add to improve the lives of your team. Additionally, it’s important to revisit these benefits each year, and see if there are any better benefits on offer. 

Providing a wellness program can help employees feel valued, and in return improve the productivity and morale of your team.

How can HPC help?

HPC offer a 2-day online Mental Wellbeing First Aid course. This course will equip you with the skills to spot signs of declining mental health, and by using a practical action plan, be able to offer someone help both in an emergency and longer-term situation. By the end of the 2-day course you will be a certified Mental Wellbeing First Aider. You can find more information on this course here.

To find out more information or if you require any advice regarding managing Seasonal Affective Disorder, get in contact with our team of experts.

T: 0330 107 1037


Twitter: @HPC_HRServices

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