The holiday season and winter blues have always had an interesting relationship in that they coincide while representing two completely different emotions–joy and sadness. For the record, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also known as Seasonal Depression, is real. It’s recognized as a clinical disorder that occurs during winter as the weather turns cold and the number of daylight hours reduces. Common symptoms include sad moods, fatigue, loss of interest in activities you like, problems sleeping, and more. Fortunately, it tends to stop as we transition out of winter.
This year, the impact is likely to be more profound as COVID cases continue to surge, leaving most people confined indoors and to their home offices. The double-edged sword of working from home is having the flexibility to do so but having nowhere to go for a much-needed change of scenery. This puts you in a tough position as a business owner or manager because you may have to contend with your own winter work-from-home blues while managing employees experiencing their own.
Below, we share tips on how to get through it.
Take Care of Yourself
We dedicated a whole blog post to the importance of leaders practicing self-care, emphasizing that taking care of yourself allows you to be a better business owner by meeting the needs of your staff and customers more effectively. We referenced Forbes’ definition of self-care: “Taking action to preserve or improve your mental and/or physical health.”
The cornerstones of self-care, of course, are sleep, diet, and exercise. Let’s add one more: daylight. By the end of the workday, the sun has set already, so be sure to get some fresh air outside before the dark. Also, it’s the holidays, so give yourself permission to indulge in comfort food a bit.
Take Care of Your Employees
As Theodore Roosevelt said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
To that end, it’s paramount that you check in with your employees regularly to see how they’re feeling. Make them aware that you understand the winter blues, and share your own best practices on how to manage them. Employees become more engaged when they feel heard, especially when you can both empathize with each other.
Make Purposeful To-Do Lists
To-do lists are the bane of many an existence. That’s usually because they’re too long and impractical, therefore setting you up for failure. The symptoms of SAD decrease our response speed and increase our lag time. Fast Company suggests using a 15-minute list:
“A 15-minute list is a list of tasks that you can do in 15 minutes or less. For example, call and schedule your dog’s annual check-up at the vet, prepare an agenda for your meeting with your direct report, or brainstorm topics for the monthly newsletter. These are easy, quick tasks that you can complete with minimum effort and brainpower.”
This could be eye-opening for you and your employees.
Set/Revise 2021 Goals
If you need some excitement to break you out of your sluggishness, set or revise your 2021 goals. It might be late in the game to create goals so close to the new year, but so what? If it energizes you, who cares? One of the best frameworks to use is SMART or goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.
Let’s say you’ve already set goals a few months ago. It can never hurt to re-examine them and make revisions. Having something to look forward to can fight the doldrums of winter.
Take Time Off
Winter work-from-home blues – work-from-home = the cure. Not to sound flippant, but you can’t really have winter work-from-home blues if you’re not working from home. You may not be able to go anywhere, but that doesn’t preclude you from taking time off. It gives you the opportunity to unplug, recharge, and see and feel more daylight.
It’s been a brutal year, but things are looking up. With the promising news of vaccines coming to Illinois sooner than later, there’s finally light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. Now that’s a winter blues buster.