Combatting the Winter Blues

Late January. The middle of Winter. It’s cold, it’s rainy, it feels like we haven’t seen the sun in years. We all know the feeling of having the winter blues, especially at work. Consequently, both temperatures and productivity are down. All the things from December we planned to get to in the new year are looking at us with judgmental eyes from their near-permanent place on the to-do list. (Go ahead, do them, it’ll take 20 minutes and you’ll feel so much better.) Here are some effective tips for combatting the blues at work.

  • A Happy Light. A former coworker had one that she graciously shared with me and it made a world of difference. In fact, I just ordered one while writing this because I remembered how much it helped in my former job.
  • Move your body. Most of us work sedentary jobs, and if we’re working from home it can be even worse. Remember to get up and walk a bit throughout the day. Set an alarm hourly to walk up and down the stairs. If you work from home, do a chore, or spend a few minutes outside if you’re blessed with sunshine.
  • Eat colors. The world is grey and monochromatic right now, but our foods shouldn’t be. Eating bright colored fruits and veggies will boost your mood. Ask your boss to add a fruit bowl to the break room, have a side broccoli with lemon zest with your lunch for brightness. Cozy foods that we gravitate to this time of year are often heavy which can add to your lagging at work.
  • Drink cold water. It is so so easy this time of year to settle in with a mug of coffee or tea to keep us warm, but staying both hydrated and alert will improve our mental health.
  • Build a happy playlist. I can never work in silence, but when dealing with winter blues, an upbeat playlist can entirely change my mood. Lately for me, those playlists have been nostalgic pop for me. Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, Hanson, Britney Spears, etc. Give me all the late 90s-early 2000s hits and I’m in a great mood.
  • Design your space for joy. My officemate and our Waiver Assistant Christy is much better at this than me and has a keyboard that’s her favorite color, we both have photos up of our family, friends, and of course our dogs. I have a green plant on my desk that makes me happy, and we normally have a diffuser going that brightens up the office.
  • Take a trip. This won’t be for everyone, but I just got back to work after a trip with my girlfriends and the common refrain from all our coworkers was that it was crazy to spend PTO so early in the year, but the relax and reset after the stress of the holidays and the general blah of the season was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. We didn’t even go to a warm tropical location, just a cabin in Colorado where we enjoyed some games, some good food, and great friends.

It’s wise to keep noticing your symptoms, as you could be living with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Unlike the mild, come and go blues, SAD is a serious mental disorder that requires treatment in most cases. You can read more about SAD here: Seasonal Depression (Seasonal Affective Disorder) (clevelandclinic.org)

While this list is not comprehensive by any means, they’re tricks that work for me. Please add any of your own ways for beating the blues. Spring is in 53 days!

Late January. The middle of Winter. We know the feeling of having the winter blues, especially at work. Here are 7 things you can do to help combat the blues.

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