From Light Therapy To Stretching: How To Combat The Winter Blues At Work




Dec. 21 2023, Published 8:00 a.m. ET

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Winter brings less daylight and colder weather into your daily routine. This shift can be mentally taxing, especially when you’re at work. How can you beat the winter blues? Here are five ways to make the season more positive and conducive to your workflow. 

1. Find time for exercise.

A great way to warm your body and mind during the winter is to find time for exercise. While running a marathon at work might not be in the cards, you can improve your physical and mental health with simple exercises.

For example, stretches are an accessible exercise at your desk that decreases the risk of injuries and improves blood flow, making subsequent tasks easier during the day. If you want to get moving, ask a co-worker to walk with you during your breaks. Walks provide low-impact exercise and bonding time with your colleagues.

2. Connect with your friends.

Cold weather may prompt you to stay inside more often, leading to isolation and antisocial behavior. The earlier sunsets also don’t do any favors for these feelings. Combat the loneliness by emphasizing your friendships and connections even more at work. Check on your co-workers to ensure they’re doing OK this time of year, or bring their favorite coffee as a friendly gesture and to spark conversation.

If you notice morale slipping in the winter, organize a happy hour to boost everyone’s spirits. Treat your co-workers to drinks or a meal at a nearby restaurant, or order catering to your workplace. Going out for brunch is excellent for celebrating wins and boosting motivation.

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3. Embrace the sunlight.

The shorter daylight hours mean you won’t see the sun as much throughout the day. Once you’ve finished work, the sun might be just about to set. Take advantage of light during the day by taking breaks outside if the temperature isn’t too cold. If it’s too chilly out, walk to a local coffee shop for a sweet treat.

Getting sunlight is good for your body. Plus, going outside provides a break from the four walls keeping you inside. When inside the office, you’re more at risk for volatile organic compound (VOC) exposure that makes you feel fatigued and induces headaches, emphasizing the need to get outside for a while.

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4. Eat Vitamin-D packed foods.

Going outside for short breaks might not provide enough vitamin D for your body, which the National Institutes of Health recommends getting about 15mcg of daily for adult women. How can you ensure you get enough of this essential vitamin?

Start by bringing vitamin D-packed foods for lunch and snacks throughout the day. While this nutrient has limited options in the supermarket, you can find it in egg yolks, red meat and oily fish like salmon. If you prefer vegan options, you’ll get vitamin D from fortified plant-based milk, cereals and supplements, but do research to ensure your favorite products are vegan before buying.

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5. Customize your workspace.

You spend a lot time at your desk and around the office, emphasizing the need for an aesthetically pleasing workspace. Decorate your desk for the holidays by adding your favorite colors, lights, candles and other accessories to raise your spirits. Picture frames and homemade decorations can make your workspace feel closer to home.

Another way to boost your spirits during the winter is to add plants. Poinsettias, amaryllises and hollies make your desk festive while improving air quality. These plants release fresh oxygen and purify the air to create a happy workspace.

If your desk needs more light, use light therapy to brighten the place. Place a lightbox at your desk to emulate sunlight and boost your mood. This strategy is excellent if you work nights and sleep during the day.

Conquering The Blues All Winter

While winter brings holiday cheer, it can also carry isolation and sadness with its cold temperatures. Change the narrative and use these five tips for combating the winter blues at work.

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By: Mia Barnes

Mia Barnes is a health journalist with over 3+ years of experience specializing in workplace wellness. Mia believes knowledge is power. As the Editor-in-Chief of Body+Mind Magazine, Mia's goal is to cover relevant topics to empower women through information.

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