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EngagedHR-under-pressure-winter-blues-workplaceRecently I’ve noticed a number of online mentions about the end of January having a “Blue Monday” which has been labelled as the most depressing day of the year.

Many factors contribute to this such as credit card bills with holiday spending catching up, January normally being a dreary month of dark drives to work in the morning and home again at the end of the day, and it can feel like you are a long way from drinks on an outdoor patio on a Friday night.

It’s not surprising they call it “Blue Monday”!

Are you seeing symptoms of this around your workplace? It is certainly something to watch out for and to combat with some very simple strategies designed to brighten up the mood in the workplace.

Encourage discussion on feelings at work to increase the likelihood of reaching out for support.Tweet

Here are 6 Secrets to Help You Beat the Winter Blues in Your Office:

  1. Create some buzz about an upcoming event.  Super Bowl Sunday coming up? Maybe have a betting pool go around the office using something other than money as currency.  Perhaps departments bet against each other and the losing department has to clean the office kitchen for a week!  Nothing like a little healthy competition to boost people’s energy.
  2. Start a walking club.  A 30 minute walk over the lunch hour will bring plenty of energy into the office and will give people an opportunity to talk and bond over something other than work. A rainy walk doesn’t feel so long and wet when you are walking and talking with others.
  3. Host a pot luck lunch and have people bring their favourite comfort food. Sharing stories about how this became their favourite “go-to” for comfort can bring people closer together and you can find lots of common ground.
  4. Invest in LED lights that are designed to increase the Vitamin D exposure.  At one of my former workplaces, we called them “happy lights” and they worked!  Very effective for combating seasonal affective disorder.
  5. Surprise people with an afternoon treat. Bring cookies and hot chocolate into the staff room or have chair massages available.  Something that brightens a person’s day and makes them realise that you are paying attention to the effort they are putting in.
  6. Brighten up the space with some plants or fresh flowers.  Sunshine can literally beam through a bouquet of fresh cut spring blooms.

And, nothing beats the blues like a good conversation.  As a manager, take time to walk around and check in with people. Pay attention to how they look, to their mood and to their follow through on their responsibilities.  Does someone seem overwhelmed?  Ask them about it and help them find a solution to the overwork.  Support and encourage with direct action.

This is a quick list of ways to perk people up to get them through a potentially tough winter month.  It is not intended to diminish the needs of those that do suffer from depression and for whom these strategies may not necessarily be effective.  If you think you, or someone you work with, may be suffering from more than just the winter blues then reach out and offer support. Provide them with information on your workplace counselling service (EAP) if you have it or check out these online resources for other ways to support someone with depression.

The more we are encouraged to bring up our feelings in the workplace and talk openly about them, the more likely people are to reach out for support, for a pick-me up and for help.

Check out Bell Let’s Talk Day and participate in a national conversation about mental health and how to reduce the stigma that can come with it.

Your Engaged HR Assignment: 

Take a walk around.  Is there a feeling of support in the room?  Do people need a spark of care and attention? Talk to people and don’t shy away from having a conversation about how to take care of your mental health. Encourage your team to participate in Bell Let’s Talk Day and do your part to end the stereotypes surrounding mental health issues.

 

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