Banish your winter blues

Four tips for a happier workday

Well, it’s that time of year. The holidays are over. The skies are overcast and it seems like weeks since there’s been any sunshine. They’re calling for snow and freezing rain. Spring seems years away. If the gray skies outside your window have brought on a recurrence of your winter blues, read on. These tips should help you get through whatever winter is going to throw at us.

1. Say yes to color

Tired of winter’s minimal white and gray palette? Cheer yourself up with some color. Bright colors, particularly red, orange, yellow, and green, can help you shake off the winter doldrums. Adding a pop of color to your office can be easy. Use colored file folders in your desk top file instead of manila ones. Switch out your boring yellow sticky notes for bright or neon colors. Punch up your bulletin board by removing your notes, covering the board with brightly colored paper, and then putting the notes back. The bright color will show through and add some cheer to your décor. Print office bulletins or newsletters on a bright copy paper so everyone will get a little pop of color in their day.

2. Sniff out a better mood

Feeling a little down? It turns out that your nose can help. Really. Citrus smells, such as orange and lemon, can increase energy and improve mood. In fact, one study showed that exposing patients suffering from depression to citrus scents was more effective in lifting their mood than antidepressants. Cheer yourself up by choosing a citrus-scented air freshener. A spray or two should have you feeling better in no time. Try a citrus-scented cleanser for your desk or floors for even more of a boost.

3. Eat and drink your way happy

Don’t get too excited. This doesn’t mean you should indulge in piles of cookies and endless cocktails. The right foods and drinks can help you ditch the blues though. Eating small amounts (about 1.5 ounces) of dark chocolate each day has been shown to reduce levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. Not a dark chocolate fan? Try a caffeinated beverage. People who drink 2-3 cups of coffee a day reduce their risk of depression by about 15%. If coffee is too much for you, try black or green tea instead. Increasing your vitamin D levels can also help. Try orange juice, milk, or soy milk at breakfast and fish at lunch or dinner.

4. Set aside time to socialize

Bad weather tends to make hermits of us all. Why go out into the cold when you could stay home where it’s warm? Because being social can give a big lift to your spirits. If you’re in the office, try spending some purely social time with your coworkers. Grab a cup of coffee with someone. Plan a (socially-distanced) treat break one afternoon and ask everyone to bring in something to share. If you’re working from home, schedule a zoom break to catch up with everyone. We know. Ugh. More zoom. But be sociable. No work talk! You’ll be surprised how much happier you will all feel after a little face time.