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Warding Away the Work Winter Blues

A frozen heart symbolizing the winter blues

As discussed in our previous post about the best times to apply for a job, February is peak season for hiring managers. So if you haven’t already, now’s the time to practice those interview skills, polish up that resume, and apply, apply, apply!…But it sounds exhausting, doesn’t it? Don’t you just want to stay curled up in bed, shielded from the piercing chill of winter’s icy and unwavering clutch, only venturing into the greyness of the world for sustenance, a pale ghost of your former self with breath only to curse the banality of it all?…Well, it sounds like you have a case of the winter blues! Believe it or not, almost everyone’s life turns into a German art house film after the holidays. And as profound as those feelings may seem, they’re actually perfectly natural. Once you accept that, there’s no need to let them get in the way of your career goals. Below are a few ways to ward off the winter blues and rescue your February job hunt.

Winter-based Seasonal Affective Disorder

To understand how to combat the winter blues, it’s good to understand why they occur in the first place. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) refers to feelings of depression that arise in some individuals during specific times of the year. Some cases can be very severe, but the most common form, known as winter-based SAD, occurs to some degree in almost everyone, hence its flippant sounding nickname, “the winter blues”. And as blue as winter-based SAD can make us feel, it’s been theorized that it actually evolved for our own good. Since food is scarce in winter, it benefits many species, including our own, to eat all we can and do as little as we need to during those months. A lowered mood, lack of appetite, and desire to sleep longer, may in fact be what remains of the hibernation instinct of an ancestral species. But are we doomed to shoulder this genetic burden every year for the rest of our lives? Or at least until we retire to Boca?

Light at the end of the tunnel

Just as we’ve replaced hunting and gathering with restaurants and grocery stores, we’ve replaced bonfires and starlight with low pressure mercury-vapor gas-discharges and light emitting diodes. In fact, fluorescent lamps and LEDs, as they’re more commonly called, are among many types of lights used in light therapy: a simple and common method of dispelling the winter blues. Since a lack of sunlight contributes to the winter blues, simply ensuring you get more sun during the day can help lift your mood, but since winter isn’t exactly the sunniest of seasons, sitting near a lamp that emits certain wavelengths of light can be an effective alternative. When on the hunt for such a lamp, or “light box” as many are called, the choices are many. Essentially, the ground rules come down to choosing one that is specifically made for treating SAD and that effectively filters out ultra violet light. However, before shopping for light box, it’s best that you talk to your doctor first to ensure it’s the best choice for you.

Walk it off

Exercise is also an effective way to battle the winter blues. In fact, going for a run, walk, or performing any other aerobic activity outdoors, even with overcast skies, has proven particularly helpful. But what if you’re too busy at work all day to exercise, not to mention too tired by the time you get home? Try working out at work. It can be done. Once you begin to exercise, your brain releases stress-inhibiting chemicals, including endorphins, to combat the feeling – and with long-lasting results that will allow you to take up your job search with renewed vigor.

Melt that icy heart

A common symptom of the winter blues is withdrawing from other people – which isn’t the best strategy for finding a new job. With the aid of extra light and some exercise, you’ll find the motivation to reinforce connections with those in your network and to forge new bonds with new contacts. Reaching out on LinkedIn is a quick and easy way to network, sheltered from the cold outside. But truly effective networking means braving the elements and meeting with people face to face. Make the effort to attend networking events and to grab coffee with friends and acquaintances. Not only will the social activity help to ward off the winter blues, but it will also put you top of mind when someone you know learns of an opening you’d be perfect for.

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