SAD: Help your employees fight it

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is very common in the UK. SAD usually sets in as the weather gets colder and days get darker. Office works enter and leave the office in the dark and barely spend any time outside in daylight. It can be an unsettling time of year, and some find it more difficult than others.

What are the symptoms of SAD?

Some people also have SAD in the summer months and feel better during the winter. However, winter SAD is more common. The symptoms of SAD include a low and persistent mood, loss of interest in normal activities, feelings of despair, lethargy, and sleeping for longer than normal. The severity of these symptoms varies from person to person.

There is no exact cause of SAD. Reduced exposure to sunlight has been linked with seasonal affective disorder in the winter. Lack of sunlight can impact the production of melatonin and serotonin. Melatonin makes you feel sleepy, while serotonin impacts your mood. Low serotonin is linked to depression, and high melatonin is associated with lethargic behaviour.

How can I help my employees fight it?

You should encourage an open and supportive culture in your organisations. Employees should be able to come to you at any time of year with mental health concerns. They don’t need to disclose all the personal details if they don’t want to. But you should be aware if they are struggling with mental illness right now. You can keep an eye on them and offer your help if needed.

Mental health should be a priority in your workplace. Your team needs to look out for each other and support one another. If you avoid the topic of mental health, you risk cultivating unhealthy workplace culture.  Focus on the well-being of your team and offer flexible work when needed. Your employees might need to improve their work-life balance. They can spend more time at home with their families when working from home.

You can’t change the dark days in the winter. However, you can provide winter clothing to keep them warm throughout the colder season. If you work outside, provide Milwaukee heated jackets to keep your employees toasty warm.

What is the treatment for SAD?

There is no magic cure for mental illness. It takes time to learn how to manage it. In many cases, those with SAD need to make some lifestyle adjustments. You should encourage your employees to get as much natural light as possible. You could invest in special lights for the office to simulate exposure to sunlight. Regular exercise can help to reduce the symptoms of SAD and provide a healthy outlet for stress.

Talk about mental health in your office, and support your employees where possible.

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