Top Tips to Help Your SME Beat the Blues This Winter
Winter will all too soon be here, bringing a risk that cold weather could hit morale in the office and even impact the productivity of your SME. Never mind the summertime blues – the wintertime version is far more of a reality for many of us, especially once the clocks go back and dark mornings and evenings lower our feelings of wellbeing.
So, what can small business owners and their staff do to brighten the mood, and promote wellbeing right through autumn and winter? At Basepoint, as leading providers of serviced office space, we promote healthy lifestyles in our buildings. Here we look at ways to keep your team fit and raring to go, whatever the weather outside.
Of course, winter brings a greater risk of illnesses such as colds and flu. Flu vaccinations are one way to keep the bugs at bay, and business owners could encourage staff to have a jab or even pay for them to have one privately. Sensible hygiene precautions such as washing hands regularly are also vital in winter and can help to combat bacteria. Despite these precautions, colds can spread quickly through a team, so, if someone is coughing and sneezing away but not too ill to work, it might be a good idea to encourage them to work from home for a day or two, if possible!
As well as flu injections, there are also other ways to improve immunity to bugs, such as encouraging staff to eat vitamin-packed fresh food. Sugary doughnuts and cakes can be tempting in cold weather, but they will just make your blood sugar levels rise for a time and then you are likely to find yourself crashing later.
Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, fruit and vegetables will lead to a greater feeling of wellbeing, so a fruit bowl in the office is a great idea in winter. Hot drinks can also boost health if you choose herbal teas, with Echinacea, ginger or lemon infusions being ideal for anyone who is trying to fight off a cold. Some teas are especially high in vitamins, for instance rosehip tea.
Are you or any of your staff sufferers from Seasonal Affective Disorder, appropriately abbreviated to SAD? The NHS has estimated that 1 in 15 people in the UK suffer from this syndrome between September and April each year, when the hours of daylight start to dwindle. Symptoms include depression, anxiety and lack of energy. Anyone who thinks they have SAD should be encouraged to speak to their doctor – but, even among those who don’t have full-blown SAD, many of us find our mood is lower when it’s wet and cold outside.
Ways of combating this include making sure your office space gets enough light, and possibly repositioning desks to be nearer to windows. You may also want to consider trying a light box or lamp specially designed to fight SAD. It’s also important to encourage regular breaks where staff go outside, even if for just a few minutes. It might be tempting to huddle at your desk all day, but, unless it is actually pouring with rain or snow, wrapping up and popping out is likely to make you feel much better.
Some people who exercise in summer find it harder to fit in during winter. It’s not so easy to walk or cycle to and from the office during a cold spell. Even if you and your staff are in the office all day, it’s still important to build regular exercise into your routine. This can be done during breaks – and you can also do simple things like walking up and down the stairs instead of taking the lift, or getting off a stop earlier on the bus.
Going to the gym or a dance class on the way home is great, while a short, sharp workout at home can be another option to consider, with evidence showing that the intensity of exercise is often more important than its duration. Cross-trainers and exercise bikes are also good ways to exercise at home, although they are no substitute for getting out in the winter sunshine whenever possible.
Staying hydrated is important during cold spells, when heating has a drying effect on our bodies. If you have a serviced office at Basepoint, you can benefit from the water coolers in our break-out areas – and share a chat with colleagues too. Being properly hydrated can help to combat winter bugs and colds as well as promoting wellbeing in general.
Getting Enough Sleep
Sleeping properly is important when it’s cold outside. Getting the right amount of sleep, 7 to 9 hours, helps to keep immunity high and ward off illnesses, and also makes you able to concentrate better during the day. Just catching up with sleep at the weekend is not really good enough, because it can confuse your body clock and even give an effect similar to jet-lag. It’s better to have a regular sleep routine and help yourself to relax by having a warm bath. Avoid screens just before bed time and in particular having a last-minute check of office emails!