As we turn our clocks back this weekend and the days become shorter, it is not unusual to experience a certain amount of SADness as we say goodbye to the sunny, warm months of summer and early fall. While most of us are negatively impacted by the chilly weather and lack of sunlight to some degree, those with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) spend the winter months struggling more than most. Even a case of the less severe “Winter Blues” can be disruptive to our routine and threaten our productivity.

If you are unfamiliar with the terms SAD and “Winter Blues”, the following list can help you to recognize the signs and symptoms of both:

  • Low energy
  • A noticeable decline in productivity
  • Increased anxiety
  • Appetite changes
  • Loss of interest in work
  • Difficulty concentrating

If this list resonates with you, now is the time to start preparing yourself for the dreary months ahead.

Get outside: Staying inside is the obvious choice during the winter months- even the thought of venturing out into the cold gives me goosebumps. However, getting outside for fresh air and exercise can improve your energy levels, mood and overall health. Rather than hiding out in the office until May, use your breaks to break out of the office and soak in any precious vitamin D and fresh air that you can.

Maintain your routine: While ditching your typical routine in favor of your favorite pair of cozy sweats and a Hallmark Movie Marathon is tempting, don’t allow it to become a habit. Yes, the weather is cold, but hibernation is not the solution. The truth is that most of us thrive when we stick to a routine, so even though your couch is calling your name, keep going to the gym, stick to your normal sleep schedule, and maintain healthy habits.

Make healthy nutritional choices: There is something about the cold months that makes many of us want to trade in those healthy summer salads for carb heavy comfort food. It’s common knowledge that food affects our mood so make sure that your food choices are a reflection of how you want to feel.  

Talk: Whether you feel the need to reach out to a professional or you are comfortable confiding in a coworker, it is important to talk through your feelings. You likely aren’t the only one in the office struggling with SAD or “Winter Blues”, and your conversations may even result in a walking buddy or someone to join you in eating healthy throughout the holidays. Don’t wait for SAD or the “Winter Blues” to catch up with you. Instead, take initiative and be proactive by implementing these ideas now.