Beating the Winter Blues at Work

A lovely and–timely–guest post from Melissa Russell down in Tampa, FL:

The dark and dreary days of winter are hard on many people, both physically and emotionally. And when those winter woes carry over into the workplace, it can make for tough sledding. Here are a few ways to beat the winter blues at work.
Get Up and Get Moving
Exercise is a wonderful way to elevate your mood no matter what the season. When you work out, your body releases endorphins that trigger receptors in your brain, producing a feeling of a natural high. That, in turn, can boost energy levels and ward off feelings of negativity.
Enjoy a Mini-Break
During February and March, when winter can be a real bear, use some of your vacation or personal days to schedule a series of three-day weekends. Use these mini-breaks to plan fun activities to help you cope with the cold season, whether it’s exploring a nearby town’s antique shops or spending some time reading a good book in front of a cozy fire.
For those who have the time and money, plan a winter vacation to a warm, sunny destination. Perhaps it’s a family trip to Florida or a romantic getaway to a tropical island. Regardless, basking in the sun’s warmth and light will melt your winter blues away.
Keep Up Office Morale
If you’re fighting the winter blues, chances are some of your co-workers are battling them as well. Planning get-togethers is a great way to keep morale up and build stronger bonds at the same time.
• Host a Potluck
Organizing a weekly potluck dinner for co-workers is something that everyone can look forward to enjoying. A fun idea is to have a theme for each get-together, and many of those themes can focus on warmer climates. Have a Mexican night or a Jamaican night and serve spicy foods that will warm you from the inside out.
• Plan Team-Building Activities
Plan some fun activities you and co-workers can do after hours. Perhaps you could all learn an activity together, such as taking salsa lessons, learning to cook or joining a ping-pong tournament. Whatever you choose, make sure it has nothing to do with work.
• Start a Book Club
A great way to beat the blues and get to know co-workers a bit better is to start a book club. Book clubs tend to get people involved in engaging discussions, and there’s no better way to get to know someone than to know how they think. The books could be lighter comedies or stories that take place in tropical destinations – something that will get everyone’s mind off the next Nor’easter.
Try Light Therapy
Good ol’ sunlight is just what the doctor ordered. In fact, it is thought that the type of depression associated with winter, which is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, is triggered by a lack of sunlight when the days grow shorter. Going for a short walk outside or even opening all the curtains in your home or office to let in some daylight can have a positive effect on your mood.
If the weather makes venturing outside impossible, or clouds are obscuring the sun, it may be time to consider light therapy. Sitting in front of a light therapy box, which is designed to mimic the effects of natural sunlight on the body, for just 30 minutes a day can help alleviate winter depression.
Light therapy boxes range from small portable models that cost about $50 to larger models priced at $400 and more. Although insurance coverage may not pay for a light therapy box, it could be well worth the investment if it helps keep depression at bay.
Remember, if you’re feeling the winter blues, you’re far from alone. Millions of people are fighting the same battle. And some of those people are likely your co-workers or friends. So, band together and try to fill the winter season with fun activities until spring blooms once more.

Melissa Russell works as a writer on marketing and business management. She also writes on topics such as military education and liberal arts for a number of universities through the University Alliance. Find Melissa on Twitter @M_L_Russell.