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Combat Winter Blues for Better Employee Health

Posted, by Rachel (Merkin) Welt on 10/24/2019

Employee health and wellness programs are both popular and effective, but are you using your wellness program to get ahead of the winter blues?

The winter can be a difficult time for many of us: 10 million Americans experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and 10-20% experience mild symptoms that are often referred to as the winter blues. With stigma still surrounding mental health, expecting employees to make the first move in talking openly or asking for help when they're feeling less than their best may be a bit unrealistic.

Normalizing mental health as part of an employee health and wellness program is an important part of approaching the wellness of the “whole employee.” Addressing these types of mental health concerns can be key to creating space for employees to reach out and get the help they need, since the support is already there for any issue (big or small) they may encounter throughout the year.

Here are a few ideas that might help employees get through that winter slump, long after the pumpkin spice is gone.

Activity is key.

It’s important in the winter months to keep your body moving. It keeps you warm and keeps the endorphins flowing which is important during the short days of winter. Try to incorporate group exercise into your workplace, whether it’s a walk at lunch or a “moving meeting,” this type of movement can help reduce the isolation that some can feel during the colder months.

Reach for the healthy snacks.

You can only get out of your body what you put into it. Make sure that employees are nourishing themselves with good food to power their brain and their body. Instead of ordering in salty and sweet snacks, keep fresh fruit around the office to encourage healthy snacking between those holiday feasts.

Enjoy the outdoors, especially during the day.

Just because winter hits doesn’t mean you have to stay inside. During the short daylight hours, encourage employees to enjoy the sunshine. Natural light and fresh (although possibly cold) air impacts neurotransmitters in our brains which can impact mood, behavior and even productivity.

Reward healthy participation.

So how are you going to get employees to do all of this stuff in the dead of winter? Make sure that your employee health and wellness program is consistently using effective rewards to drive participation. Supporting a healthy lifestyle with small incentives, like gift cards, is a great way to combat the winter blues and ensure that your employees participate in the program you build for them this winter.

Combatting winter blues is not only important to employee health but can impact staff productivity to the point that it actually affects your bottom line. Get ahead of the winter slump this year and make sure your staff is prepared to work through the tough winter months and set your business up for a successful start in 2020.

 

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Topics: Employee Engagement, Wellness Incentives

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