The winter blues are no joke. According to a recent study by Villanova, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) impacts up to 5 percent of the population, while 10 to 20 percent of people endure a less severe version of the condition.
As a freelancer, you might not have to join your peers in their snowy slogs to work during the winter months. However, that doesn’t mean you’re immune from SAD and its effects. On the contrary, a slew of recent articles suggests that freelancers suffer from winter blues just as often as their 9 to 5 counterparts if not more frequently. And they have a lower overall evaluative wellbeing than their counterparts who are employed full time.
Here are some actionable tips to help you beat back the winter blues when you work from home.
Not only is exercise essential for controlling weight and maintaining health, but it can also help fight depression. Research shows that working out causes the body to release endorphins, which interact with the brain to reduce perception of pain. The end result is that you feel happier and less depressed.
As a freelancer, you can use exercise as a way to minimize the effects of SAD. If you don’t want to shell out for a gym membership, consider watching workout DVDs or YouTube videos, buying some hand weights, or even just taking a daily walk around the neighborhood.
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Take a Daylight Break
Most of us tend to work during normal business hours, i.e. from 9am to 5pm. However, as a freelancer, you might be able to shift your schedule so you can enjoy the daylight while your peers are stuck in their cubicles.
While you don’t have to become nocturnal during the winter months, consider taking a couple hours off work in the middle of the day – say around 2pm – to get out and enjoy the sun. Along with the burst in energy, you’ll benefit from the extra vitamin D at this time of day. You can make up the work in the evening, when it’s cold and dark.
Find Out if You’re SAD
Some of us get a little blue during the colder, darker months of winter. Other people experience the full-on depression known as seasonal affective disorder. Symptoms of this serious condition include tiredness, oversleeping, weight gain, and irritability, according to the Mayo Clinic.
These days, SAD sufferers don’t have to endure their pain in silence. If you have this condition, consider upping your vitamin D intake with daily supplements. You can also open your curtains, move your desk near the window, and even purchase a special lamp that simulates the effects of the sun. According to research by the National Institute of Mental Health, SAD is caused mainly by lack of sunlight, and you can mitigate that winter deprivation with regular phototherapy.
Get Out of the House
Being home alone can leave you feeling, well, lonely. And the problem only intensifies during the winter months. Fortunately, you can boost your spirits by working out of your local library or café. Not only is getting out of the house a good spirit booster, but being in a new setting can also spur your creativity. And as an added bonus, you can enjoy a mocha latte while you tackle one of the less enjoyable items on your task list.
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During the winter months, it’s tempting to spend your days holed up on the couch with your slippers and blanket. However, if you want to stave off seasonal depression, it’s important to get out of the house and see people. Winter is a great time to do that networking you neglected during the busy summer months.
Meet up with a fellow freelancer to work together at your local Starbucks. If you don’t know any work-from-homers in your area, consider reaching out to some of the LinkedIn contacts you’ve been meaning to get to know better. You can also do some research about upcoming networking events in your region. With a little effort, you can fight depression while increasing your employment opportunities for the coming years.
Embrace the Season
It’s easy to write off winter as that long and pointless period after the end-of-year holidays and before spring rolls around. However, thinking of the cold-weather months in this manner will likely just increase your feelings of depression. Instead, freelancers and others should try to embrace the benefits of winter.
Schedule time to participate in your favorite winter activities, such as outdoor ice skating, skiing, and sledding with the kids. You can also enjoy indoor winter treats, like hot cocoa, roaring fires, and cuddling on the couch with your sweetie after work. So, the next time you’re feeling blue, strive to celebrate winter instead of disparaging it.
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