Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) impacts over two million people each winter. SAD is characterized by feelings of fatigue, depression, and anxiety that occurs at the same time each year. It can lead to a rough few months, but fortunately, there are ways to combat the symptoms while at work. Here are 11 surprising ways help you kick the winter blues while at work:
1. Eat dark chocolate.
Keeping a bar of dark chocolate at your desk can do more than satisfy your sweet tooth: it can also elevate your mood. Studies show that dark chocolate promotes the release of endorphins that provide an instant boost to happiness. Dark chocolate is also rich in serotonin, the neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness.
2. Drink turmeric tea.
Turmeric is a powerful plant that serves many functions and has been proven to ease symptoms caused by major depression. The main component of turmeric, curcumin, modulates various neurotransmitters, so swapping out your morning coffee for a cup of turmeric tea may be the little boost you need to keep the winter blues at bay.
3. Invest in a desk plant.
While every season has its positives and drawbacks, having most greenery die is one of winter’s pretty big downsides. Instead of waiting around for March or April to roll around to experience signs of life, take matters into your own hands and invest in a plant for your desk.
4. Dab on an essential oil.
An essential oil is a concentrated aromatic liquid extracted from plants that are commonly used to promote relaxation. To help deter the winter blues, look for an essential oil with soothing properties such as lavender or lemongrass, and dab it on your wrist throughout your workday. Essential oils are easily available in drugstores, some health shops, and through multiple online vendors.
5. Declutter your desk.
Spring may be the first season that comes to mind when you think of giving your space a thorough cleaning, but in winter, a fresh start can be what you need to help keep the blues at bay. Getting rid of things you don’t need and straightening up your everyday items can give your space a more peaceful feeling.
6. Get rid of your office blinds.
Because winter provides so little opportunity to take in light, it’s essential to make the most out of the hours that light is available. Ditch the shades in your office, and let as much sunlight in as possible.
7. Practice guided imagery.
While you may not have time for a full-on meditation session during the work day, practicing guided imagery during a short stretch of downtime may give you the boost of relaxation you need to make it through your day. During a guided imagery session, you may picture something as simple as sitting on a beach or walking through a park at dusk. They key is to pick an image that engages all of your senses to help you momentarily disassociate and relax.
8. Cut carbs.
While the first instinct after experiencing a hit of SAD may be to load up on comfort foods like chips and cake, reaching for carbohydrate-rich foods can actually be counterproductive to fighting the blues. The happiness delivered is short lived, as the spike to blood sugar levels will leave you feeling worse after.
9. Eat asparagus.
Get the most out of your lunch break by using it to help combat SAD. Asparagus contains heaps of tryptophan, an amino acid that is essential to producing serotonin. Add it to a salad or use it as a side to reap the benefits.
**Note: Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression. The above is an incomplete list of non-pharmaceutical remedies that have been shown to help alleviate SAD symptoms. If you are feeling depressed, please consult a medical professional; additionally, you can seek help via one of the following free hotlines:
Kayla Heisler is an essayist and Pushcart Prize-nominated poet. She is a contributing writer for Color My Bubble. Her work appears in New York's Best Emerging Poets anthology.