The last thing you will feel like doing when you are suffering at the hands of SAD is go to work and do the job that you don’t feel as if you can do anyway. How are you meant to tell your boss that you are suffering with a condition that only happens during the winter months? If you had never heard of the condition before you started suffering with it, how can you expect your boss to have heard of it?
That’s the thing – you’re going to need support from your work colleagues and bosses so speaking to them is actually vital. As soon as you realize you are suffering, or have received a diagnosis from your doctor, you need to have a chat with those in charge to see what options you have. The good news is that awareness of SAD or the winter blues is on the up!
There are a couple of strategies that sufferers of SAD have used in order to combat seasonal affective disorder in the workplace, but without the support of those you are working with, you are going to find life very difficult. You may assume you can hide how you are feeling with a cheery “I just didn’t sleep well”, but the constant drone of people asking how you are and how you are feeling because you don’t look good will soon start to get on your nerves.
Rather than trying to deal with everything by yourself, open up to let those around you help you, and try to follow some of these great coping strategies:
1 – Take an ‘outside’ break.
During lunchtimes rather than sit at your office to eat, staring at the computer screen and wishing the rest of the day away, head outside. Even if the weather is crisp and cold, the little bit of sunlight and some fresh air will make you feel a thousand times better, and you’ll be surprised at how productive you can be once you take some time out and have reflection time.
2 – Try a small light box at work.
Why not ask your boss if it would be OK for you to bring your light box into the work place to have at your desk? Or if there is somewhere you can plug it in for twenty minutes or so during your break? Of course, if the lighting is very bad in the office, it might be worth mentioning as much to the people in charge. It might just be time for a lighting overhaul?
3 – Try for flexibility.
It’s really hard to have a positive attitude on life when you go to work when its dark in the morning, and get home after it has turned dark at night. You won’t be getting any natural sunlight and it’s no wonder you feel depressed, sad or anxious.
Ask if there is any way that you can split your shifts so that you perhaps start a bit later and finish a bit later so that you at least get some natural light in the morning? Or maybe start earlier and finish a bit earlier so that you can get some sun in the afternoon / evening to boost your mood? Work is important but your health is important too and if you don’t ask, you won’t get.
Another place a request for flexibility needs to come into play is when you need time away from work to attend appointments with doctors, therapists, counselors, etc. Just remember to give the people in charge as much notice as possible when you will need time off, whether it is for an appointment, or if it is for time out just because you are feeling pretty under the weather.
4 – Be honest with your boss.
We’ve already established that not being honest won’t help you much, but your boss will soon start to notice if you don’t say anything. One of the common symptoms associated with the winter blues or seasonal affective disorder is lack of concentration. Other symptoms can include oversleeping – if you are starting to turn up to work unusually late, you will start to get into trouble. If you are honest about your condition, your boss can start to be sympathetic. Plus there’s the social withdrawal to worry about… Your work colleagues are soon going to notice something isn’t right.
5 – Ask about counseling.
Some work places have schemes in place so that when people are suffering with mental issues like depression, stress and anxiety, a counselor will be provided so that they have the chance to talk their problems over. It might be worth getting in touch with your human resources department at work to see if there is something available at your work place. Again, you’d be amazed at what help is out there once you go looking for it.
A helping hand is out there if you suffer with seasonal affective disorder and it doesn’t need to affect the way that you work. With the right steps to make your life a happier, easier place such as installing a light box on your desk or being allowed to wear a light visor, or just having an afternoon off to go for a walk in the sun and see a counselor, the first step to take is admitting to your boss that you need a hand. From there, the rest is relatively easy once the ball gets rolling!