I’ve recently noted the value in avoiding Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is good and well when you are two years old and have no occupational commitments. But how do grown-ups practically avoid this and the associated losses in health and productivity?
Most that I’ve spoken with over the last 15 years agree that their staff are their greatest asset. So a few tips to ensure the cogs of your business continue ticking over without too much squeaking:
- If you can’t have your staff out in the daylight, bring the daylight in! Standard artificial light is insufficiently bright to stimulate serotonin. Without a steady supply of this hormone during the day, your workers will be sluggish, grumpy and sleeping poorly at night!
- Set KPI’s for outside time! Scheduled breaks, short meetings or group exercise outside can contribute positively to employee health, and it’s an investment that will have immediate and ongoing dividends in productivity.
- Encourage ventilation. Enclosed space, particularly teamed with recycled air, increases levels of volatile organic compounds. These contribute to respiratory disease and stress, and are a primary factor in sick building syndrome.
The products and future of your business need not hinge on sludgy cognitive function for half the year!
- Plan your creative work and decision-making for an hour after your scheduled exercise, and where possible, work in a well-ventilated room with an outside view – if not outside!
- Minimise noise and distractions – block out creative time where your phone and email alert are switched off.
Prepare yourself for work as athletes prepare for sport – with intent to perform. Avoid letting work-days slide by as routine activity; rather, find things that spark you cognitively and apply these to your preparation for work.
- Wear appropriate clothing! If your boss is suddenly leaving the doors or windows open, it may be to improve the quality of your work environment. Don’t worry – you were made to thrive in cool clean air – good thing cardigans are back in vogue!
- Speak up on issues of concern. These can compound when other seasonal pressures begin to build. Seek resolution and keep your state of mind clear.
- Find something active that you enjoy – it doesn’t have to be running! It just needs to get your muscles contracting and relaxing rhythmically at regular intervals through the week! It is possible to sweat during Winter!
For optimal winter health, the Cancer Council Australia reiterates that it’s not only safe but necessary to achieve 2-3 hours of sunlight exposure per week when UV ratings hover below 3. This is a little thing that can be done to enhance your health and the health of your organisation, and put paid to the old adage that all work and no play makes one dull!