Many people feel blue after the holiday season and have a post-holiday hangover when January arrives. A combination of many factors can trigger the problem, including family anxieties, financial concerns, the lingering flu season, the continuing winter season, and unsettled routines with the ups and downs of holiday socializing.

There are also many people who may or may not know that they suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), with the long hours of darkness in the autumn and winter months leading to a temporary depressed mood in many people.

With all of these factors at play, it’s often difficult to spark up the workplace in the early months of the year and motivate ourselves to stay positive! We asked Dr. Jaty Tam, Medical Director at Well Street to weigh in with some advice on what employers can do to ease the real issue of the post-holiday blues and provide some self-care tips to brighten our gloomy winter days.

What are the symptoms of SAD?
JT.SAD is not a depression in the medical sense, but rather it’s Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Sufferers of SAD are not necessarily sad and depressed, but primarily tired, listless and exhausted. An increased need for sleep and craving sweet foods high in calories are typical for Seasonal Affective Disorder.

How do the post-holiday blues and SAD manifest themselves throughout the workplace?

JT.Signs of the post-holiday-blues and SAD include employees’ lack of enthusiasm, energy, focus and engagement right after the holidays. However, generally things pick up after the routine settles back in. If it lasts longer, holiday blues can have a negative impact on the output of quality of work and employees giving less innovation and creative drive.

How have you seen Managers and HR respond to the post-holiday blues?
JT.There are many remedies Managers can try in order to engage their employees over the winter months. Here are some we’ve worked on with our Clients:

Encourage workers to take a walk get outside, or have a walking meeting.

Continue to keep celebrations alive, whether it’s recognizing birthdays, milestones etc.

Reducing digital overload in their lives, free up space for creativity and time for thinking.

Offer flexible working schedules.

Continue with ongoing recognition, a simple thank you goes a long way to bulld respect and engagement.

Start the new year with goal setting. Start in sizeable chunks, with projects and milestones, achievements to celebrate and promote a sense of satisfaction.

Keep the mission alive in the company. Communicate often; employees like to feel connected to the company’s mission. And if well-being is a core value of your company goals, then don’t miss the opportunity to communicate that. It will make your employees feel cared for.

Offer professional development days, or a topic around well-being. Many clients we work with offer ongoing mindfulness training for managers and employees tapping into the benefits of mindfulness and modelling the behaviours of awareness, compassion and curiosity. Mindfulness for some clients has become the foundation of skills needed for change and growing a culture of innovation.

Offer programs on healthy stress i.e. helping to build a positive mindset towards stress. Providing education and tools on how stress can enhance performance and growth, raise one’s energy levels, improve health symptoms, and lead to greater life satisfaction.

We often recommend that clients create a blend of learning options, from online as well as face to face group and classroom. There are lots of studies to show how face to face interaction can improve happiness and positive emotions.

Create a culture of gratitude throughout the year and the gift of gratitude will keep giving. Gratitude has been proven to promote feelings of well-being and happiness, and these are skills employees find beneficial to tap into to harness a greater feeling of contentment and happiness.

Promote healthy eating and exercise. We all overindulge over the holidays; at work make healthy choices easier to access, think twice about the donuts, bring the fruit and water instead.

Start a healthy weight challenge or even a healthy eating or detox challenge in groups to spark up energy and goal setting.

Finally, a lack of daylight is one reason many people struggle with their mood once the holidays are done. Brightening up your workplace can go a long way to avoiding gloominess. Make sure your fixtures are clean and in good working order, and consider changing bulb types to make things brighter. Orient desks to maximize natural light wherever possible, and encourage people to step out for a stroll if the sun is shining. Another option: invest in a few light therapy lamps and let your staff take turns basking in their bright glow.

Article Written By: Jaty Tam ND. Dr. Jaty is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor in Toronto and the Medical Director and Co-Founder of Well Street Health. Driven by her passion for health education, and her desire to bring wellness principles to the corporate world (in which she spent many years before becoming a Naturopathic Doctor), Dr. Jaty, continues to inspire audiences through Keynote Speaking  and building innovative corporate wellness programs that cultivate winning wellness cultures.


Well Street is a National Wellness Company helping organizations take a proactive approach to total wellbeing in the workplace. Don’t wait to react; companies can integrate health and wellness prevention strategies to empower wellness and drive employee engagement and happiness. Learn about our most popular total wellbeing programs: 
Mindfulness and Healthy Stress and a broad range of inspiring wellness  Seminars.  See what our Client’s are saying! 

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