With winter in full swing, Australians may find it particularly difficult to find motivation at work and some may even develop Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD) because of the reduction in daylight hours.
The winter months can result in feelings of sadness and fatigue which can make getting through the working day feel like a struggle. Those who suffer from SAD may experience decreased energy and concentration levels which can impact productivity and an individual’s overall happiness at work.
As Founder of Rise, I’m determined to encourage workers to be happy and find meaning in their work irrespective of the season. Workplace happiness is crucial to an individual’s overall well-being, so I’ve compiled five pieces of advice on how Aussies can combat the winter blues at work this year:
1. Switch how you view stress
We all have those days where work-related stress can make us feel like taking a sick day and the change in season can leave us feeling demotivated. Or it could be the overwhelming amount of work on your plate or feeling like the work you are doing isn’t meaningful to you – this leads to people feeling disengaged.
When it comes to dealing with stress, we often forget to schedule in rest time. Finding a good balance to recharge your batteries is crucial for maximum workplace productivity and wellbeing. One way to combat stress on an individual level is to reframe the way you view it and turn stress into a positive thing, rather than your enemy.
By changing your mindset and embracing stress rather than avoiding it means that you can use stress to help boost your mood and achieve your goals. Try to think of stress as a way of your mind pushing you to rise to a challenge and tackle a task head-on rather than being a debilitating influence. For instance, when a situation at work is deemed stressful, try looking at it objectively and think of the bigger picture. Try not to get bogged down with the details and think about what the reasons are that are making you feel so stressed, breathe, and then try and put everything into perspective so that you can get on with the task at hand without feeling like there’s a huge mountain to climb.
2. Always have lunch away from your desk
Winter can have a negative impact on your health and wellbeing as the hours of sunlight are even more limited. At Rise, we’re advocates for encouraging colleagues to get away from their desk and eat their lunch elsewhere. Not only will the extra bit of sunlight boost your vitamin D levels (which is linked to improved mood) but you may also find that the time spent outdoors makes you feel more refreshed and creative.
3. Make more time for rest
One of the best ways to avoid burnout and reduce stress is to make sure that you schedule in some non-negotiable rest and recovery time to recharge your mind and body. Take a break every hour, even if it’s for 10 minutes, go outside for a walk, enjoy the fresh air and absorb the sunlight during the working day. If you can’t go outside, grab a tea (whatever tickles your fancy) or just walk around the office. Something is better than nothing. Staring at a computer screen the whole day can often leave you feeling uninspired, so taking constant breaks will leave you feeling more refreshed and productive at work.
4. Take the opportunity to use flex-itime
Having a work-life balance is crucial for good mental health, although it can be difficult to achieve. If your employer offers flexi-time, it’s worth having a discussion and developing a plan on how you can benefit from working more flexibly or remotely to find a way to make work, work for you.
By sticking to the plan for at least 21 days, which is often considered the timeframe required to make a habit, incorporating flexi-time into your work-life should become more of the norm, and will make work and life more enjoyable by leave you feeling more fulfilled.
“One way to apply flexi-time into your work-life is by switching your hours from 9-5 so that you start earlier in the morning or finish earlier in the afternoon. This could allow you the opportunity to avoid rush hour, pick up your children from school, or simply get outside whilst the sun is shining. Whatever you choose, it will help boost your happiness by reclaiming some of that important ‘you’ time.
5. Get active at work
Many Australians spend their working day sat down. It’s well known that doing exercise releases positive endorphins, so try to make a conscious effort to be active in some way. Maybe incorporate walking as part of your commute to work, or take regular breaks, whether that’s getting up to grab a glass of water or going for a run on your lunch break. When it comes to being active during the working day, why not suggest having a ‘walking meeting’ with your colleagues instead of sitting down in a meeting room and talking. Doing some type of activity that doesn’t involve being totally sedentary and chained to your desk will increase creativity, improve your mood and help energise you for the rest of the day.
Ross is the founder of Rise and is an expert in meaning and happiness at work, with over 16 years’ experience working across management consulting and talent acquisition spaces. He regularly speaks at career and leadership events, industry forums, and has made guest appearances on international radio shows.