How to combat seasonal affective disorder (SAD) in your workplace

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is more than just the ‘winter blues’ or a feeling of sadness. David Price of Health Assured suggests four ways to combat the depressive disorder in your employees.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

What is seasonal affective disorder (SAD)?

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depressive disorder that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. SAD is sometimes referred to as ‘winter depression’ as the symptoms are usually brought about by the lengthening periods of darkness and therefore more apparent in the winter.

Symptoms of SAD can include:

  • a persistent low mood
  • lethargy
  • low energy
  • difficulty waking up in the morning
  • decreased concentration

How can employers mitigate the symptoms of SAD in their employees?

SAD is a serious issue and one that can have drastic effects on productivity in the winter months. Therefore, it’s a good idea for employers to be on top of things that can affect people’s wellbeing so seriously.

Here are just a few ways to help your workforce cope with the encroaching evening darkness:

  • More light: some offices are dark and dreary places, especially when the sun starts setting earlier and earlier. And some people find themselves seated at desks and cubicles situated far from the nearest source of natural light. Try rearranging your floor plan to maximise the natural light available and consider moving people suffering from SAD closer to windows.
  • Encourage more outdoor time: employees should be taking lunch away from their desks in all offices. Time away from your desk helps clear the mind, reset and means you can attack the afternoon’s tasks afresh. But try encouraging people to go further than just the staff kitchen. Assuming the winter weather isn’t too harsh, lunchtime can be well-spent going for a quick walk around the block. It’s about getting as much sunlight and positivity into the workday as possible. Short outdoor meetings and coffee runs should also help too. 
  • Help out with health: SAD can wreak havoc on an appetite and this causes weight gain. In turn, this can make the associated depression harder to deal with. Try providing healthier snacking options during the winter months, diet drinks, herbal teas.
  • Even more light: A lot of people suffering SAD benefit greatly from a SAD lamp or light box. A light box is a form of light therapy which uses fluorescent lights to simulate natural sun. It’s effective and recommended by the NHS

Follow these tips and, hopefully, the people you know who suffer during the winter will have their problems lessened.

About the author

David Price is CEO of Health Assured, a provider of health and wellbeing solutions. He advises employers on how to encourage and develop a healthy workplace, while outlining best-practice guidance on how to combat and control workplace stress.

See also

Are you protecting your employees from work-related stress?

Do I need a mental health first-aider in my workplace?

Would you recognise work addiction?

Find out more

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) (NHS)

Image: Getty Images