As staff enter the latest COVID-19 lockdown and this coincides with shorter, darker days, managers may find it useful to share information on how best to beat symptoms of the winter blues — or seasonal affective disorder (SAD) — wherever employees are working.
According to the NHS, symptoms of SAD can include:
•a persistent low mood
•a loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
•feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
•feeling lethargic (lacking in energy) and sleepy during the day
•sleeping for longer than normal and finding it hard to get up in the morning
•craving carbohydrates and gaining weight.
For some people, these symptoms can be severe and have a significant impact on their day-to-day activities. Workers should consider seeing their GP if they are struggling to cope and the doctor will most likely assess their mental health, asking questions about their mood, lifestyle, eating habits and sleeping patterns, plus any seasonal changes in their thoughts and behaviour.
It is thought that lack of sunlight might stop a part of the brain called the hypothalamus working properly, which may affect the production of melatonin and serotonin (the neurotransmitters responsible for sleep and mood) as well as the body’s internal body clock.
A range of treatments are available for SAD but the most common treatments include:
•lifestyle measures ― getting as much natural sunlight as possible, exercising regularly and managing stress levels
•light therapy, where a special lamp called a light box is used to simulate exposure to sunlight
•talking therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or counselling
•antidepressant medication such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
Eating well can help too: people should drink lots of water and eat foods containing omega-3 fatty acids (such as salmon and mackerel) and amino acids (such as eggs, nuts, fish, whole grains and spinach). These foods are readily converted into serotonin, which may help to boost mood.
Search out previous blogs for advice. How to help someone with SAD.