As daylight hours decrease, many people experience sadness and fatigue. At work it may be difficult to concentrate, you may feel irritable, and your to-do list might feel more daunting than usual. Winter blues, or seasonal affective disorder, affects up to 20 percent of us and there's more to it than just feeling unmotivated. The winter blues can lower your resistance and leave you vulnerable to colds and flu.
So how can you stay healthy and energized at work when all you want to do is hibernate until spring? Here are some easy ways to beat the blues.
Move it. Just ten minutes of activity can do the trick. Take a stroll around the parking lot, walk up a few flights of stairs, even gently stretching your arms, neck and legs can revitalize your body.
Play outside. Physical activity releases endorphins that can boost mood and health. Since most of us spend the majority of our lives indoors inhaling stale air, it's a good idea to take every opportunity to get outside despite the cold weather. It's even better if the sun's shining and you can soak up some mood-boosting Vitamin D.
Breathe. Sit in a chair and slowly count to four while inhaling through your nose. Visualize peace, energy and light filling your body. Hold it for a second then slowly count to four exhaling through your mouth while imagining tension and tiredness floating away. Repeat three to five times during the day.
Help out. Helping others less fortunate keeps your own life in perspective. Organize a group of co-workers to volunteer at a homeless shelter, for Meals on Wheels, or Habitat for Humanity. You'll break up the monotony and see your co-workers in a new light while helping out your community.
Have some fun. What's more fun than food? Plan a regular department potluck to liven things up. Consider adding a theme - say Hawaiian - and ask for tropical food and dress. Doing something different even for a few hours can boost your spirits and immune system.
Eat smart. Since most of us get sleepy in the afternoon, eat a healthy lunch that includes protein, non-starchy vegetables and fat for long-lasting energy. Good examples of balanced combinations include cooked chicken breast and carrot sticks, canned tuna and a lettuce salad, or fish with vegetables. Same principle applies for mid-afternoon snacks. Don't expect to stay energized if you're not eating right.
Set some goals. If you're feeling like every day is the same, shake things up by setting goals for yourself. Tackle your list of must-read books, finish a long-neglected project, brush up on your skills, attend a seminar or take a class outside your comfort zone.
Go fruity. Bananas, apples and grapes can give a much-needed lift because they contain natural sugars, vitamins and fiber. Bananas are one of the few fruits containing both simple carbohydrates, for instant energy, and complex carbohydrates, for endurance. Need something to keep at your desk? Try dates. They also include both simple and complex carbs and are loaded with essential nutrients and vitamins.
Keep it clean. A recent report states that the average desk has 400 times more germs on it than a toilet seat! And under the right condition, these germs can double every 15 minutes on shared equipment like copy machines, light switches, and coffee pots. Think about all the items you touch on your desk alone - keyboard, mouse, phone, pens. They carry a surprising amount of bacteria. Always wash your hands after using the restroom, use hand sanitizer after touching shared equipment, and regularly wipe down your office area with antibacterial wipes. You also might consider upgrading your mousepad, keyboard, and other items to the new antimicrobial products that inhibit the spread of germs.
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