What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness?
John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America
A recent item on the CBC encouraged listeners to “embrace Winter”. Indeed, it’s great if you enjoy skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing or just being outdoors, generally. In fact, one guest suggested we should try winter camping. We are often reminded about the importance of getting out in the fresh air and enjoying as much sunlight as possible, during these long winter months.
But, what if you’re a person who has to get up and go to a workplace, or have other responsibilities, which keep you indoors? Whether you are an employer or an employee, there are things that you can do to make life more bearable if you are stuck inside for most of the day.
Do you get to work and then home again in the dark?
Many people do and if you work somewhere with poor lighting and/ or ventilation it can seriously affect your mood and, consequently your performance.
Pull up the blinds and let in as much light as possible. Most experts believe that the lack of sunlight during the winter season throws off the body’s rhythm and leads to hormonal changes as well as a decrease in the production of serotonin, the chemical your brain produces when you have a lot of energy and are in a good mood.
Open a window on those really sunny days (so long as nobody is sitting in a draft) and make sure thethermostat is turned to a comfortable level.
Amongst other things you can do is to introduce some plant life. In his article “Beating the Workplace Winter Blues and Avoiding Seasonal Slumps” on Humanity.com, David Galic refers to a study performed by Virginia Lohr of Washington State University which claims that “even workers who are on their computers all day see an increase in productivity and lower blood pressure when they are working in a room that is full of plant life. The presence of plants at the workplace boost productivity and it helps workers to feel refreshed and focused”.
If you’re business doesn’t lend itself to having plants around, you can always include paintings of the natural world, in your décor.
It can be hard to be motivated during the winter months, especially if your company experiences some form of downturn in production. It’s important that employers ensure that the extra time is put to good use. Take it as an opportunity to engage with the workforce, have meetings and discussions that will reinforce and accomplish outstanding goals and set new ones. Getting together as a team can be motivating and refreshing.
This is also a time to take care of your general well-being. Get enough sleep, eat well and do try and do some form of exercise. Colds and flu are prevalent and you need to be proactive in keeping yourself fit and healthy.
If you do get sick, take time off. You will recover more quickly, but, more importantly, you won’t be spreading your germs to other people.
In some people, the winter months can lead to lethargy and even depression. If you find you are affected in this way, do read up on the condition referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). On the CTI Technology website, Chief Executive Officer, Aaron, S, Kane, addresses this issue in his article: 5 Tips to Keep Employees Motivated in Winter. He writes:
“If you find yourself feeling increasingly lethargic and in a very negative mood most of the time during the winter, there’s a good chance that you have SAD to some degree. He points out that “People who suffer from SAD are often overwhelmed when it comes to creating plans and getting things done. If there are any big projects that you need to tackle, try to break them down into small increments and focus on these small projects one by one instead of trying to deal with a giant project and being overwhelmed by it.”
He goes on to explain, “Sometimes it’s all about simply getting by for people with SAD. Get through the winter being as productive as possible and when the winter thaws and you start feeling better as spring approaches, then you can ramp up your work goals and take on the big projects that seemed so insurmountable to you while the weather was cold.”
Kane also gives advice to managers:
“Remember, as a manager, there is probably a solid percentage of people at your workplace who find it tough to work when the weather is cold and the sunlight is missing from their work days. Do everything you can to help them out and take care of their emotional and mental wellbeing.
Helping yourself and your workers get through the winter will undoubtedly result in a stronger, more engaged, happier and more productive workforce once the spring season returns.”
So whether you embrace the winter months or not, try and bear in mind, it won’t be long before Summer is here and we are bemoaning the fact that “It’s just too hot!”