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Supporting Employees with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in the Workplace

Mindfulness Coach, Sasha

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November 22, 2022

Supporting Employees with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in the Workplace

Each year, millions of people in the U.S. experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also called seasonal depression or the "winter blues." This is a type of depression that occurs during specific seasons, typically during the fall and winter months when there is less natural sunlight. It is believed to be caused by a lack of sunlight, which can disrupt the body's internal clock and lead to a decrease in serotonin levels. A 2020 article by Forbes indicated that SAD can negatively affect motivation and diminish workplace communication and productivity.

SAD can have a significant impact on employees in various ways. Here are some ways it can affect employees:

Mood and Energy Levels: SAD can cause employees to experience feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and low energy levels. This can make it difficult for them to concentrate and perform well at work. Decreased Productivity: Employees with SAD may have difficulty focusing and completing tasks, leading to a decrease in productivity. They may also have trouble staying motivated and engaged in their work. Absenteeism: SAD can lead to increased absenteeism as employees may feel too fatigued or unmotivated to come to work. This can result in a loss of productivity and increased workload for other employees. Interpersonal Difficulties: SAD can affect an employee's social interactions and relationships with colleagues. They may withdraw from social activities or have difficulty communicating effectively, which can impact teamwork and collaboration. Increased Stress: Dealing with the symptoms of SAD can be stressful for employees. They may feel overwhelmed by their emotions and struggle to cope with the demands of their job.

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Seasonal Affective Disorder

Employers can take several steps to support employees with SAD:

Flexible Work Arrangements: Offering flexible work schedules or remote work options can help employees manage their symptoms and maintain a better work-life balance. Provide Adequate Lighting: Ensuring that workspaces are well-lit with natural or artificial light can help alleviate some of the symptoms of SAD. **Encourage Physical Activity: **Regular exercise has been shown to improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression. Encouraging employees to engage in physical activity can be beneficial. Employee Assistance Programs: Offering access to counseling or therapy services through employee assistance programs can provide support to employees dealing with SAD. Raise Awareness: Educating employees about SAD and its symptoms can help reduce stigma and encourage open communication. This can create a supportive work environment where employees feel comfortable seeking help. It's important for employers to recognize the impact of SAD on employees and provide the necessary support to help them manage their symptoms and maintain their well-being. Those with known SAD should consult a mental health professional about when to start treatment to help minimize symptoms and MeTime Healing team are here to help.

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