Seasonal affective light disorder, commonly known as SAD, is a regularly cited condition during the winter months that affects an individual’s mood and their teamwork dynamics productivity. The condition is commonly believed to cause depression in individuals during the colder months of the year. So does SAD actually influence how you respond to trust, interdependence, genuineness, empathy, risk and success issues in the workplace and in your teamwork dynamics?  According new research, SAD may be more of a self-fulfilling prophecy, rather than a condition caused by shorter days and less exposure to the sun’s rays.

A large-scale study of 34,294 Americans found no correlation between season and mood, and individuals’ depression symptoms were not any higher during the winter than they were during any other time of the year.  This means that their depression was likely caused by other factors and not the weather. So while the idea of the winter blues has certainly been popularized, there isn’t any scientific evidence that suggests these claims to be true. These findings suggest that if you do feel gloomy or sad on drizzly days, it could have more to do with your stress level due to lack of exercise, amount of sleep, post holiday stress and attitude, rather than an imbalance. Fighting off the winter blues then could be as easy as making a shift in your attitude and lifestyle.

Teamwork strategies for improving productivity in the winter

Focus on the positives, and stop complaining.

The solution for the winter blues may be as easy as shifting your attitude to a more positive approach to the season.  For example, rather than cursing the negative aspects of their long winter months, most Norwegians are truly excited about everything winter has to offer, from skiing to cozy nights on the couch to the northern lights. So the first step to a more enjoyable season is focusing on the positives that are to come. After you do that, outwardly shift your attitude by stopping all forms of complaining and get out to exercise. In the American culture, it’s easy to bond with others by complaining about the weather or other negative aspects of life, but this type of communication only does more harm than good. Instead, stop complaining about the bad and outwardly express the good in your life to improve your attitude and remove the blues. We provided a good exercise for this in the e-book and audio training program, Melting Your Stress within 30 Days.  A shift in attitude can occur within 60 seconds.

Make a change.

With the change in daylight hours, you may find yourself to be more sluggish during the morning hours. When you wake up while it’s still dark out, your body is still producing melatonin, which can keep you sluggish in the morning. As the sun starts to rise, your levels on melatonin reduce steadily, so it may be helpful to change your sleeping schedule by sleeping in later in the morning. If this isn’t possible, an early morning workout can also combat the excess melatonin and boost your energy. Another helpful change that can improve your productivity is working shorter days marked with more breaks. Working long days and skipping breaks may sound like a productive way to get more done, but in reality the opposite is true. When you work long hours, you start to get bored and lose your focus, which kills your productivity. Instead, take regular breaks and work no more than eight hours per day to get the most out of your day.

Finish what you start.

This might sound like an obvious strategy, but many people waste time by starting tasks and then never completing them.  For example, many people waste time by checking their email and closing out of it before taking any action. When you do go back to it again to reply or to make an action plan, you have to start over again and reread the email to decide how to proceed. This can waste your time by up to four minutes per email, which can add up to a significant amount of your time, depending on how many emails you receive per day. While a disregarded email may seem small or insignificant, it actually can make a large impact on your productivity, so no matter how small the task may seem, finish everything that you start to remain the most productive throughout your day.

The winter months can be a difficult time for many people, and productivity across the board tends to suffer, but it doesn’t have to. According to new research, SAD may have more to do with negative attitudes about winter weather than the season itself. So if people aren’t actually battling an imbalance, they can implement some easy changes to improve their moods and increase their productivity. Some helpful teambuilding strategies include: focusing on the positives in life rather than the negatives and quitting complaining; making schedule changes to work with, rather than against, the limited daylight hours; and finishing every task you start, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. With these teambuilding strategies, team members can improve their productivity, even during the tough winter months.

For more ideas, we found the following articles to be helpful:

Copyright TIGERS Success Series, Inc. by Dianne Crampton

About TIGERS Success Series, Inc.

TIGERS® Success Series is a proven, comprehensive approach to building team cooperation and collaboration between departments by understanding 6 principles that reduce conflict, improve work group efficiency and measurably produce high performance teams. The 6 TIGERS® principles are Trust, Interdependence, Genuineness, Empathy, Risk and Success.

The 6 principles ignite people’s natural desire to make a positive difference at work and separate adequate work groups from truly exceptional ones. With psychology and human performance at its core, the TIGERS® 6 Principles are used in post mergers where cooperation and collaboration are desired outcomes; in startup companies defining their work culture and team dynamics; and, in transforming low performing work cultures into stellar ones that attract and retain top talent.

When managers and business ownersw what to reduce team conflict and problems so they can do their jobs to grow the company, the robust TIGERS® system works well with lean course work, quality and multiple workforce development trainings to track your group development over time and to improve work group behavior. Click here to learn about the TIGERS 6 Principles and how to train your team members to deploy TIGERS methods in your organization. Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and G+

Contact Dianne Crampton at 1+ 541-385-7465 to bring the 6 Principles That Build High Performance Teams break out session or presentation to your next conference or association meeting.