Warm Up Those Winter Blues

As the seasons change, our employees have unique experience dealing with the changing of seasons and specifically, the “winter blues” and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). In this blog post, we will discuss some of the techniques our employees use to combat this disorder as well as suggestions from research.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a seasonal pattern for recurrent major depressive disorder that occurs at a specific time of the year and remits fully otherwise. This is a more severe and recurring version of the “winter blues” that people sometimes have. The symptoms include feeling overly tired, having little energy, social withdrawal, and gaining weight.

Plow drivers and other seasonal workers in cooler climates experience these kinds of symptoms often. The strange working hours, very little sunlight, and low physical activity all lead to the “winter blues”. The effects snowball (no pun intended) and can even lead to severe depression and suicidal thoughts.

There are things plow drivers, and really anyone who experiences these symptoms, can do to combat them. The most famous treatment is light therapy. A special light is set up approximately a foot or two from the patient. The patient sits by it for at least 30 minutes. This treatment recreates the effect that sunlight has on the body. While effective, this can be tedious and time consuming. It also really intended only for patients who have severe cases of SAD.

For less severe cases, James, KG Landscape’s Foreman, suggests, “make it a priority to get regular sleep hours whenever you can.“ Keeping your body on a regular sleep schedule will ensure you stay in a routine and not over or under sleep. This also encourages your body to be up when the sunlight is possibly up.

Managing indoor plants is a technique that Josh, KG Landscape’s Chief of Operations, employs. Josh says, “taking care of the plants reminds me of my summer garden.” The green of the plants and the simple action of caring of them can remind the mind and body of summer, thus keeping those groggy feelings away.

Research has shown that eating a healthy diet raises serotonin levels. Eat complex carbohydrates like potatoes, fruits, and grains. But don’t over do it! Many of our plow drivers try to avoid the drive thru they’re plowing and stop at a grocery store to buy some more healthy options.

There are many other techniques our employees use to conquer the winter blues. Some employees shovel their personal driveways instead of plowing to have some physical activity. Almost all employees have wireless headsets. When the company goes out to plow properties, employees talk to each other to combat the loneliness felt in a truck.

It’s important to note (taken from the American Psychiatric Association):

“If you feel you are suffering from SAD, it is important to seek the help of a trained medical professional. SAD can be misdiagnosed as hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia, infectious mononucleosis, and other viral infections, so proper evaluation is necessary. For some people, SAD may be confused with a more serious condition like severe depression or bipolar disorder.”

If you have any suggestions of how you battle the winter blues, tweet at us @KGLandscape or comment below!

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