The days continue to get shorter, which means we’ll have less and less sunlight for a few weeks. As autumn fades and a gray colorless season takes hold, it’s natural to feel the winter blues. You may even be impacted by seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that happens in wintertime. A lack of sunlight can decrease production of serotonin, the “feel good” chemical your brain produces when you’re happy.
Working a 12-hour nursing shift can add to the challenge because you will find yourself going to work in the dark and returning home after the sun has set. Fortunately, you can take some steps to beat the winter blues and even help your coworkers with their struggles. Here are five things to do at work when the blustery, dark weather has you down.
- Decorate your station with some greenery
Live plants in your workspace can reduce stress. A assfound that working in a room full of plant life can lower blood pressure and boost your productivity. If you’ve got a brown thumb, images of nature, such as paintings or calendars, will also do the trick. The human brain connects the pictures with the outdoors, which can reduce stress and anxiety.
- Find a way to exercise
When you’re feeling down, you’d probably rather curl up in a chair or hibernate in the breakroom. Push yourself to fit exercise into your day. Skip the elevator when possible and take the stairs. You could even start a walking club with coworkers, meeting on your lunch break for a brisk walk outside or even through the halls. All you need to boost your mood is 15 or 20 minutes of activity.
- Set realistic goals
It can be easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re feeling sad. Make a point to go easy on yourself and your coworkers by setting realistic plans for getting things done. Look at your to-do list and see if there are items you can delete, especially if your shift is especially busy. Feeling like you have too much to do only adds to your level of stress.
- Seek out the lightI
f you work the day shift, take advantage of any natural light you can. Open the blinds and let the sunshine inside. If that’s not possible or you’re working the night shift, artificial light will have to do. Keep the overhead lights on if you can or add a lamp at your workstation. You can even get special lights that are made to help treat SAD.
- Share healthy snacks
Comfort food is often loaded with carbs, which can make you sleepy and even add pounds that can add stress. Instead, focus on treats that are healthy and will give you energy instead of depleting it. For example, you can snack on apple slices, cheese, and hard-boiled eggs that are easy to grab in the breakroom and will keep you properly fueled for your shift.
If you think you or a coworker may be suffering from something more serious than the winter blues, be sure to get or help provide support. Contact your employer for information about their Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) that may be available.
If you’re thinking about going into nursing, Fortis can help by providing you with a great education. Click here for more information on our nursing programs or call us today at (855) 436-7847 and speak to one of our career counselors.