These winter blasts are getting old as the snow keeps falling in many parts of the country. Whether we call it “Seasonal Affective Disorder” (SAD) or the “Winter Blues,” there is no question that many people are affected. Power outages, slick roads, and school cancellations can wreak havoc for those who enjoy routine and predictability. Since we have no control over the weather, what can we do to help employees get through this particularly difficult winter?
1. Make the most of snow days. How can you prepare your employees to be as effective as possible when working from home unexpectedly? Discuss work expectations with your employees to lessen the stress of the situation.
2. Exercise can be especially helpful in keeping moods elevated. Anticipate difficulty in maintaining exercise routines and make a contingency plan. Could you snowshoe or trek through the snow? Is it a good time to try that Hot Yoga? Could you do early morning mall walking? Is there any way to view shoveling as an exercise plan?
3. Look for opportunities to get into the light. Lack of sunlight and vitamin D are often cited as the root cause of SAD. Without light, it also becomes more difficult to produce mood-elevating neuro-transmitters. Some people find light boxes helpful, or you may be able to find spots of sunshine around your home or workplace to grab extra light while you work, read or just sit quietly.
4. Perhaps it’s time to plan an upbeat meeting or event in a different and brighter setting. Something out of the ordinary may be just what your team needs right now. A simple lunch or gathering after work may give you an opportunity to have some fun together.
As a manager, be aware of how this long, grey winter may be affecting the emotional condition of your employees. And remember, if you suspect that anyone, including yourself, needs more help, your EAP is only a phone call away.