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September 24, 2018 By Casmin Wisner

Staying Productive When the Seasons Change

September 24, 2018

By Casmin Wisner

Read More from Casmin Wisner

September 24, 2018

Staying Productive When the Seasons Change

By Casmin Wisner
Public Relations Specialist

This past weekend signaled a shift in seasons and with it colder weather, shorter days, and pumpkin spice lattes…

If you are like most people, than you’ve probably found yourself crabby and irritable at work for no other reason than the weather? Research shows that seasonal changes impact our mood, influencing how we feel about work. For example, as summer ends and fall begins, daylight hours shrink and temperatures fluctuate between crisp mornings and hot afternoons.

So if you thought you were going crazy, rest assured that the “winter blues” is a real condition. It is sometimes also labeled as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which can lead to depression and reduced energy levels.

Why Do Seasonal Changes Impact Us?

Now the real question is why do our moods so often mimic the weather? Scientific research points to specific reasons for the impact. For example, researchers note time changes twice a year affect your circadian rhythm. It is more commonly known as your biological clock. Other evidence cites hormone problems and vitamin deficiencies, which can lead you to feel drained and unmotivated.

However, like the solutions available for the seasonal onslaught of allergies, colds, and the flu, there are similar remedies to improve work output.

Make Lifestyle Changes According to the Seasons

Whether we like it or not, a healthy lifestyle includes regular, vigorous exercise, and there’s evidence that exercise mitigates the effects of SAD. Additionally, wholesome food can help deliver vitamins and minerals that help the body combat seasonal changes and avoid sickness.

Colder temperatures and shorter days lead some to spend more time indoors and hibernate. Instead, try seeking out social activities away from home, especially if you work remotely. Reach out and help others, volunteer at your child’s school or a local shelter. These activities can be fulfilling while the social interaction combats the seasonal “blahs.” Also, consider joining a local Meetup group that shares similar interests, such as food group or a book club.

Alter Sleep Times Gradually Leading Up to Time Transitions

Setting clocks back or forward affects workers across the world. Some U.S. states have even stopped the practice because it’s been shown to increase hospital visits and car accidents.

Rather than just jump into the time difference the day it happens, one thing I do is adjust my sleep schedule a few weeks prior. I start going to bed 15-30 minutes earlier or later, depending on the season. This helps you adjust your body clock gradually. That way you avoid the productivity crash that can hit for several days after a time change.

Increase Light Exposure

Since change in light has been identified as one of the causes of SAD, look for ways to introduce more of it in your daily work routine. If you work from home, find the brightest spot in the house or take that laptop out to the patio or balcony.

Several years back I bought a sun lamp and put it near my desk. The light from this lamp is designed to mimic that of normal outdoor sunlight. I’ve found that using it over the course of several weeks it lifts my mood noticeably overall.

Many office workers achieve this effect by taking a break and walking outdoors. Some even work outdoors if there is space (and you’ve got a good jacket to keep you warm!).

Change Meeting Times to Match Energy Levels

Move your join.me meeting forward to a part of the day where everyone feels fresh and energetic. This could be mid-morning rather than late afternoon when in some regions it’s actually starting to get dark (I’m looking at you, Pacific Northwest). The afternoon can even be used for tasks that don’t require as much energy.

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