Colder days and longer nights are the antithesis of summer. It’s those undeniable signs that winter is coming, and for some, so are the blues. Seasonal depression, or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), can be complex to diagnose in people who show symptoms that typically begin in the fall or winter around the same time every year for approximately 4 to 5 months. That’s a considerably long time to experience a perpetual “feeling “down” disposition, which is how most describe their SAD symptoms. It is estimated that around 10 million Americans suffer from SAD, while in the UK, approximately 2 million people are affected by it. In Canada, SAD accounts for about 10% of all reported cases of depression. Sadly, SAD affects millions of people globally every winter season, with women being more susceptible than men.
SAD isn’t something that just impacts your personal life but your professional one as well. According to the NHS UK, SAD symptoms typically include one or more of the following significant professional or personal life changes:
- A persistent low mood
- No more pleasure or interest in normal, everyday activities
- Feelings of despair, guilt, or worthlessness
- Low self-esteem
- Crying more or tearfulness
- Stress and anxiety
- Less social
- An increased appetite
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleeping for longer than normal
- Less active
This seasonal slump can manifest differently in each individual, but there are strategies one can use to mitigate this blah feeling. At Credico, we have compiled a list of methods we employ to help our team combat this seasonal funk and be proactive and productive.
1. Don’t “should” yourself
When you’re feeling low, avoid telling yourself what you “should” be doing. Saying things like “I should be doing more” or “I should have done better” only makes you feel worse. Instead, it’s important to acknowledge that you’re feeling down and to be kind to yourself during this time. Don’t try to motivate yourself with guilt or shame when dealing with the winter blues. After all, it’s okay not to be okay all the time.
2. Talk to someone
Consider therapy to help you manage the emotional challenges you are facing and to reduce the sadness you are experiencing. Talking to someone you trust, your manager, or a professional can help you approach your work with a different perspective and provide you with the right words to express yourself when communicating with your colleagues or upper management about this very real disorder. Talking to someone can help you manage your responsibilities more effectively and set realistic expectations while getting the support you need during this time.
3. Try vitamins
When we have a deficiency in vitamins, it can affect our mood. During winter, with less sunlight, we may lack certain vitamins that we naturally get from the sun. To improve your mood, consider supplementing your diet with vitamins. Vitamin D can help when you’re not getting enough sun exposure, B vitamins are great for cognitive functioning, and Omega-3 fatty acids and Sam-E vitamins can help lift your mood. In conversation with your doctor, consider adding these foods to your diet or taking vitamin supplements to combat sadness.
4. Consider light therapy
According to the NHS UK, light therapy works by sitting near a special lamp for about 30 minutes to an hour every morning. The bright light produced by a light box encourages the production of serotonin, the hormone that affects your mood while reducing melatonin, which makes you sleepy—the brighter the morning, the better the results. Light therapy is a great way to make you feel lighter inside.
5. Get more daylight
Due to the decrease in sunlight during the winter months, you can try changing your routine to maximize the amount of daylight you see during the day, especially if you work from home. For instance, you could wake up earlier, take your work break earlier, work out before starting your workday, or take your dog for a walk to get some exercise while being exposed to some vitamin D, which is known to be the kryptonite of seasonal funk.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is more common in areas with fewer daylight hours during the winter season. If your budget permits, it can be helpful to travel more to change your surroundings and lift your spirits. Also, if you’re currently working on a hybrid schedule, try to work in a different environment when you’re not in the office. This can include a space with good lighting and airflow alongside other people to prevent loneliness. Being around happy people can also improve your mood.