4 ways to deal with winter depression at work

Posted on November 28, 2018 at 4:00 PM

Along with the thrill of the upcoming holidays, the winter season might bring something else too. You may feel like you are settling in for an interminable winter slump. With this season come familiar, unpleasant moments: chilly mornings that make getting out bed a burden, navigating sick co-workers, and trudging through gray days fit for hibernating. But if you notice a persistent lethargy following you around and impacting your mood, something more may be at play. If you suspect winter depression is affecting your work and happiness, here are a few steps to take.

  1. Make your health a priority

    Now may not be the ideal time to attempt a major career change or new adventure, especially if it will put a strain on your physical or mental health. Instead, pay more attention to your daily checklist. Double down on the basics like exercise, eating well, drinking plenty of water and logging a full eight hours of sleep each night. This may involve making smart-but-tough decisions like saying no to new projects, turning down networking events, or skipping team happy hours for the time being.

  2. Set realistic expectations

    Winter depression amplifies feelings of overwhelm and mental fog, which can interfere with your ability to get anything done. If you find yourself here, you can adopt simple strategies to make the most of your time and the energy you do have. First, see if there is anything you can take off of your to-do list. Break down big projects into doable steps. If trimming your actual to-do list is not possible, then consider giving yourself a break for not going above and beyond right now. Impress your boss or take on a huge project once you are feeling more like yourself.

  3. Do not judge yourself

    Seasonal depression can lead to critical thoughts like ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘I’m too lazy’ or debilitating behaviors such as worrying and avoidance. Adjusting your goals or planned workload does not make you weak or a failure, rather it is a sign of mental strength and maturity. Avoid comparing yourself to what your co-workers are doing or what you see friends doing on social media. Remember, seasonal depression has a biological basis that can lead to problems concentrating and low energy. It is not simply a matter of willpower and forcing yourself to work harder.

  4. Plan something to look forward to

    Perhaps the easiest and most effective way to lift yourself out of your funk is to plan something to look forward to. Call an old friend for lunch or a plan a weekend getaway. If you have always wanted to try a particular hobby, now is an excellent time to get started. Purposeful activities like knitting, arts and crafts can focus your mind to improve mental well-being. The heart of winter is an excellent time to build anticipation by making long-range plans to look forward to. It has been found that people who travel actually get a greater boost of happiness from the anticipation of the trip than from the trip itself.