6 Ways To Fight The 2021 Winter Blues While Working RemotelyPublié le 19 February 2021
“Winter is not a season, it’s an occupation.”
― Sinclair Lewis
Winter is a long season of short days. The winter of 2021 has been rough, and shows no sign of letting up before spring. It is a period that can be emotionally and mentally draining, and that was before the events of the past year. Freezing cold temperatures, record snowfalls, short daylight hours and a once-in-a-century health emergency have combined to form a perfect storm of anxiety and negativity. If you find yourself feeling the effects of the 2021 winter blues, there are a few steps you can take to help shake up your headspace, inject some positivity into your life and help improve your internal mood until spring finally arrives.
S.A.D. ― A Definition
There is an important difference to make between feeling negative emotions that are compounded by seasonal changes, and mental health conditions such as S.A.D. and clinical anxiety and depression. Seasonal Affective Disorder – appropriately known as S.A.D. for short is defined by CAMH as “a type of depression that occurs during the same season each year… [which] usually happens in the fall or winter.”
There are serious mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression that can be affected by the season, and which require proper treatment, management and support beyond the scope of this article. Anyone who feels they may be dealing with issues related to their overall mental and emotional well-being should never hesitate to contact proper mental health professionals at any time.
6 Ways To Fight The 2021 Winter Blues While Working Remotely:
- Get sunshine (or a replacement)
- Move as much as possible
- Take work breaks
- Think about nutrition
- Stay in touch
- Celebrate your achievements
Get Sunshine (Or A Replacement)
Feeling the warm sun on your skin isn’t just pleasant, it also provides very real health benefits through a boost of Vitamin D. Without enough Vitamin D, people can experience a range of unpleasant symptoms including:
- Chronic fatigue and tiredness
- Decreased bone strength
- Muscle weakness
- Suppressed immune system
- Increased chance of cardiovascular issues
There is also a great deal of research to suggest a link between Vitamin D deficiencies and increased instances of depression and related mood disorders. Suffice to say, it is important to get enough sunlight and this is all the more difficult with shortened winter days. Three simple ways to increase your Vitamin D include arranging your workspace to let in as much natural light as possible, investing in a sun-replacement light, and adjusting your diet to include Vitamin D-rich foods such as fish, eggs, and mushrooms.
Move As Much As Possible
If you feel stuck in a negative headspace, physically getting up and moving can be an effective way to shake loose of that feeling. Physical activity and exercise really does cause hormones and endorphins to be released in your brain which have positive effects on mood. Now this doesn’t mean that you need to head to the gym and start busting out reps, and in fact, the ongoing reality of the COVID-19 pandemic limits the options for physical activity.
While working remotely, it means that you likely have a limited amount of space, time and equipment to use for exercise. Fortunately, studies have shown that as little as 10 minutes of moderate exercise can offer multiple health improvements. There are simple forms of physical activity such as stretching, yoga, aerobics and body weight strength training that require little to no equipment and don’t take up a ton of space and time. Remember to be kind to yourself and listen to your body. As you start to introduce exercise into your routine, be aware that it is not a cure-all and getting frustrated with yourself about exercise won’t be any help. Whatever amount of physical activity you can do is great, and making it a regular part of your day will have many benefits and help to combat mental burnout.
Take Work Breaks
If your work is causing you some serious 2021 winter blues, simply step away from it for a few minutes and take a break. Breaks are important because it gives you time to mentally rest and feel recharged when it is time to return to work. This is still true when working from home. While it may feel silly to take a work break when you’re already in your own home, it should still be incorporated into your productive work schedule.
Even if you don’t think it’s necessary, a short 10 minute break can help boost your mood and help you be a more productive and effective colleague. It doesn’t matter if you get up and stretch, read a chapter from a book, make a quick phone call or just stand in front of the window and get a bit of sun, it all helps you clear your mind and get you ready to tackle more challenges.
Think About Nutrition
Working from home has affected the eating habits of many people. Instead of having to pack a lunch or being able to pick up something across the street from the office, more people are cooking at home than ever before. It’s important to think about the food you eat, because having proper nutrition plays a role in maintaining physical, mental and emotional health. When making your own food, it can be easy to fall into a rut of eating the same things over and over, and if these go-to meals and snacks don’t provide all the nutrients your body and mind requires, it can actually intensify the 2021 winter blues.
Now, this does not mean that you need to jump onboard that latest trending diet, only drink coffee with melted butter until noon and cut out every food that tastes good. In fact, there is no one correct eating plan for everybody. Each person has different nutritional needs, sensitivities and preferences. What works well for someone else may not necessarily work well for you, and vice-versa. It only means that if you feel like you’re in a bit of slump physically and mentaly, introducing a greater amount of nutrient-rich foods into your diet may help. If you want to learn more, consider virtual consulting a qualified nutritionist who can help ensure you are getting the nutrition that you need to feel good and function well.
Stay In Touch
Working remotely has been a large adjustment for everyone. Nearly one year into this new form of working, it’s important to remember that the best work is done with the collaboration and support of colleagues. Feelings of isolation have increased during this period of remote work, and feeling isolated is definitely a contributor to the 2021 winter blues and is a serious contributor to employee burnout. Company leaders and managers need to make every effort to create a feeling of connection and acknowledgement in the virtual office.
This means using whatever means available to maintain a spirit of comradery: virtual happy hours, birthday celebrations, hangouts and chats. This all helps everyone to remember that there are real people behind the squares in the Zoom meetings. For individual employees, it’s always a good idea to stay in touch with colleagues. Even just short messages and quick chats can help maintain workplace bonds. With everyone in their own little worlds waiting for the snow to melt, it never hurts to reach out and say hello.
Celebrate Your Achievements
One of the best ways to boost morale and improve your mood is to have your hard work and achievements celebrated. While reaching a big milestone in the office used to be celebrated with high fives and maybe a trip to the nearest pub/bakery/greasy food truck, this can’t happen for the time being. Even though the traditional celebrations aren’t possible, acknowledging employee achievements is still important and is an effective way to combat the 2021 winter blues.
If the only acknowledgement of success you recieve is text on a screen, it is easy to feel like the effort outweighs the reward. Instead, share achievements and successes with colleagues and reach out to acknowledge the hard work of others. Remember that the virtual office is still a team, and that by working together even while in separate spaces it is still possible to achieve great things. Don’t be afraid to cheer, pop the champagne and throw your own party.
Winter can be a tough season, and working remotely presents a whole new set of seasonal challenges. Try using some of the 6 ways to fight the 2021 winter blues while working remotely, and hopefully the thaw will be here before you know it.
“Summer is the time for squabbles. In winter, we must protect one another, keep each other warm, share our strengths.”
― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones
Please Note: This article is not meant as medical advice. If you feel that you are dealing with issues related to your mental and emotional health please reach out and contact healthcare professionals immediately.