How Employers Can Combat SAD

Jamie Roberts

Jamie RobertsCopywriter at Mediaworks

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

During winter, many see their mood affected by the overall lack of sunlight and colder temperatures, impacting their mood and motivation. This consequently causes ‘seasonal affective disorder’ (SAD).

Article 3 Minutes

It’s estimated that SAD affects as many as 10 million Americans. But what is it? What are the symptoms? And how can we combat it in the workplace?

SAD: What is it?

SAD is a form of depression caused by the lack of sunlight and dark days, and is associated with the late autumn and winter months. This occurs when the body’s chemical balance and internal clock change. Some people class it as ‘the winter blues’ and it’s most common between 18–30-year-olds. 3 out of 4 sufferers are women but men are more likely to experience more severe symptoms.

What are the symptoms of SAD?

Symptoms can include:

  • Sleep issues — normally oversleeping and struggling to stay awake
  • Overeating — particularly carbohydrates and sweet foods
  • A persistent low mood
  • Loss of motivation
  • Being lethargic
  • Lack of interest in activities which were previously enjoyable
  •  
  • Increased anxiety
  • Weakened immune system
  • Social issues, including withdrawal from social situations

How can it affect employees at work?

83% of US workers suffer from work-related stress and 57% think their employers don’t care about their work-life balance. Not only is there an increase in the number of sickness days taken during the winter months, 90% of American workers will still come into the office when they’re feeling under the weather.

Software firm, CharlieHR, reported in a survey that January has 53% more sick days than the rest of the year, and a lot of this could be assigned to the impact of seasonal affective disorder. 

There’s more to SAD than sick days. Research has found that 34% of workers claim they’re significantly less productive during the winter months while 50% say winter adversely affects their mood.

Suffering from SAD in the workplace

Employers and staff have the potential to combat SAD together.

"More employers could encourage their staff to adopt a healthier diet, providing greater access to fruit in the office to prevent people reaching for sugary confectionery, particularly in these cold winter months. Eating healthily shouldn't feel like a chore and snacking on fruits like berries can help with food cravings during the day due to their natural sweetness." - Laurence Olins, former Chairman of British Fruits

 

In addition, supplements may be an option for those suffering from SAD during work.

“Supplements are a great way to boost your team’s health and nutrition, which will in turn enhance their performance. By offering supplements to your colleagues, they will also benefit from the knowledge that you care for their wellbeing.” - Frankie Brogan, Senior Nutritionist at Pharma Nord

 

Statistics reveal that that as many as 72% of Americans suffer from a vitamin D3 deficiency and as many as 1 billion worldwide. By upping vitamin intake, employees may benefit from the reduced risk of a faltering immune system during the winter months.

“Vitamin D does an excellent job of supporting our immune systems.” - Frankie Brogan, Senior Nutritionist at Pharma Nord

 

Flexible working hours and the option to work from home could also help alleviate the symptoms of SAD. With December and January having less daylight hours, offering flexible shifts or remote working means people may benefit from being able to get out when it’s still light.

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