Is Winter Sapping Your Team’s Energy? Seasonal Affective Disorder is widespread. Try these holistic remedies to brighten the cold weather months
Have you felt listless, befuddled, or downcast since daylight savings ended and it started getting dark an hour earlier each day? Or perhaps you’ve noticed people who work for you seem a little bit “off” since we set our clocks back an hour Nov. 6.
Although it’s not as jarring as losing an hour’s sleep in the spring switch to daylight savings time, the fall time change comes with challenges too. Our circadian rhythms, the way our bodies respond to natural stimuli such as daylight, don’t respond to arbitrary time changes when we set clocks back or forward. Also, we lose about two minutes of daylight each day between the summer solstice June 21 and the winter equinox Dec. 21.
With the shorter, darker days, many people struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a condition marked by sadness, moodiness, and low energy levels. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5), other symptoms include:
- Hypersomnia or a tendency to oversleep
- Changes in appetite, especially a craving for sweet or starchy foods
- Weight gain
- Decreased physical activity
- Difficulty concentrating
- Avoiding social situations
Some people with SAD even struggle with thoughts of suicide. If you suspect you might have SAD, talk to your doctor about it. This condition affects an estimated 10 million Americans, with women four times as likely as men to be afflicted, so chances are you or someone you know has it.
Fortunately, there are things we can do to overcome the winter blues. Here are a few to try:
- Lighten Up! — Get outside as often as you can to soak up more light as the weather permits. Try taking a walk every day that you’re able, keeping window shades open, and setting your workstation up near a window if you can. Another option is light therapy using light boxes specifically designed to emit light about 20 times brighter than typical indoor lights. Light therapy is usually recommended for about 30 minutes a day and tends to be the most useful first thing in the morning. The goal is to mimic the light you’d normally get outside during the sunnier seasons of the year.
- Get Moving — Regular exercise can increase serotonin levels in the brain, which can help fight off seasonal sadness. So get moving today, whether it’s a walk around the block, a yoga or exercise class, or a hike in the mountains. Try parking at a distance when you do your holiday shopping, and looking for all opportunities to stretch your legs. Any amount of exercise will help lift your outlook.
- Eat Healthy — People gain an average of five to seven pounds over the winter months due largely to being less active and indulging in sweets and carb-heavy comfort foods. Eating healthy food has a way of making you feel lighter, which may support a more positive outlook. So stock up on healthy food choices, and keep processed foods to a minimum. Choose recipes high in whole foods and natural mood boosters such as dark leafy greens, dark chocolate, nuts and seeds, fish, and avocados. Research shows that healthy nutrition is an important part of holistic healing for SAD.
- Balance Your Energy With Energy Healing — Releasing emotional baggage that may be holding you back is another great way to prevent the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or at least reduce their severity. Just about everyone struggles with emotional baggage from difficult and traumatic experiences in life. Unprocessed negative emotions such as sadness, hopelessness, anger, anguish, grief, and disappointment can color our experience of life, harm our relationships, and damage our physical, mental and emotional health. Fortunately, Energy healing methods such as The Emotion Code® and The Body Code™ offer holistic ways to release harmful emotional energy and create more space for joy in your life.
- Mindfulness and Other Mind-Body Practices — Mindfulness practices can also help holistically heal Seasonal Affective Disorder. Try practices such as yoga, Tai Chi, meditation, and setting positive affirmations. Setting an intention each morning to approach the day from a positive perspective can transform your life and help you power through the shorter, darker days of late fall and winter.
- Stay Connected — If you are suffering from seasonal sadness, you may be more prone to feelings of isolation. You may be tempted to crawl under the covers and not come out until spring! But a good way to beat the winter blues is to stay connected with others who lift your spirits. With pandemic restrictions lifted, there are more opportunities to get together in person. You can also still catch up with old friends via social media, email, or phone calls. Another great way to boost your spirits is by helping others. Volunteer to help schools or organizations in your community, such as organizing a toy drive for the holidays. There are many options you can do together as a team that will lift the spirits of your employees and the people you reach out to help.
- Celebrate the season — Celebrate the winter holidays with your team, and recognize group accomplishments as well as team members’ birthdays, anniversaries, and family accomplishments. With the easing of pandemic restrictions, there are more opportunities for us to get together in person, but even virtual team meetings provide opportunities to build each other up and express gratitude for work well done. The season is chock-full of holidays that can bring you cheer. Make it your intention to have fun and celebrate.
These are just a few of the ways you can practice healthy, holistic habits and make the colder months a time of cosiness, comfort, and community. Give them a try and see how they can lift your spirits and those of the people around you.