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Preventing Winter Blues in the Workplace

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The beautiful colors of fall have given way to the gray and white and sometimes dreary colors of winter – and for some, this dreariness drags on. Days are getting colder, it’s dark when you leave for work in the morning and when you get home in the evening, it seems you are stuck indoors too often because of the weather. If these thoughts give you some anxiety, you may be prone to the winter blues. Winter isn’t really the cause of blues, it’s the symptom of being cooped up inside with really low amounts of sunlight.

Winter blues in the workplace affect 1 in 4 people, especially women. It manifests in such ways as sleepiness, moodiness, lack of energy, and depression. These symptoms make it more difficult to get to work on time, be more productive while at work or even engage with co-workers.

Whether you suffer from the winter blues or not, when the weather is miserable and you haven’t seen the sun for days, just getting motivated to work can be difficult. Here are some ways to get through the winter months while staying as positive and productive as possible:
• Go outside – if the day is pretty, encourage your employees to take a break from working and walk outside for a bit – maybe even do group walks around the building or work site
• Let in the light – open the blinds and encourage your team to keep the lights bright during the winter
• Encourage your employees to get enough sleep, eat a well-balanced diet and get some physical activity – having a routine can really help combat the winter funk
• Chocolate – yes, chocolate! Chocolate is a natural mood booster, so help out your employees by keeping small, individually wrapped chocolates around the workplace
• Volunteer opportunities – find ways to give back to the community within working hours or do group volunteer projects as the odds of describing yourself as a “very happy person” increases by 7-12% for those who regularly volunteer

Winter blues are very common, so helping your team get through the dreariness of winter will result in a more productive workforce once spring is here!

*While winter blues are common and can be lessened, it is not the same as Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is more severe and may require medical attention -

Mr. Griffith has a received his bachelors degree in Environmental Health from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. He is a Certified Industrial Hygienist and president of Workplace Safety & Health Company. He has over 35 years of industrial hygiene, safety, loss control and consulting experience. Chemical monitoring, noise measurement, program development and management, risk assessment and computer management of health and safety data are areas of particular strength. Mr. Griffith is a member of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) at the local and national level. He is also active in the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE).

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