5 ways to beat the winter blues at work

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(MoneyWatch) At this point in the winter, the sparkle of the holiday season has faded and offices are grinding again at full force. For some of us, the weather can affect our mood -- and eventually, our productivity. Unchecked, winter blahs can lead to burnout that lasts well past the last snow. Here's how to feel brighter on the job today, even if the forecast is bleak.

See the light early and often

The major reason for SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is lack of light associated with shorter days. If you feel seriously affected, talk to your doctor about special ultra-bright lights that you can use daily, or other treatments that may ease seasonal depression. But if you're just a little under the (gloomy) weather, find light whenever you can. "Walk outside before work, at lunch time, or on breaks, or put an extra lamp on your desk and brighten up your space," says Joan Borysenko, PhD, author of "Fried: Why You Burn Out and How to Revive."

Book a brighter conference room

On a similar note, try to get light into your office calendar. Is your main conference room windowless? Do whatever you can to change that. "Hold your meetings in a room well lit with natural light, with plenty of windows and skylights," says efficiency expert Andrew Jensen, founder & CEO of Sozo Firm, Inc., a business consulting firm. If you can't change rooms, use full-spectrum light to brighten the space as best you can.

Daydream about sunnier seasons

Are you a gardener? Swimmer? Sailor? Preparing for those spring and summer activities, or putting photos of those pastimes on your desktop, can help lift your spirits. "For instance, if you're a gardener, save those seed catalogues that come in the mail and [plan for] spring, or spend time off brainstorming in your favorite plant nursery," says Borysenko.

Start a walking lunch club

Instead of ordering lunch in, organize a lunch brigade that goes and picks up lunch on a short walk, suggests Jensen. You'll all get out into the light, boost your endorphins with exercise, and possibly become a closer team in the process.

Become a weekend winter sports fanatic

Swore off skiing years ago? Give it another chance. "Embrace the colder season by taking part in winter activities like snowshoeing, cross country skiing, ice skating and playing with your kids in the snow," says Jensen. You'll begin to see the advantages of sub-zero temperatures. If you'd really rather stay warm than expose yourself to the elements, avoid zoning out to your favorite re-runs. "Stimulate your mind while away from work by starting a new book series or playing table games with family and friends," says Jensen.

How do you beat winter burnout? Please share in the comments section.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user Dr. Marcus Gosler

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    Amy Levin-Epstein is a freelance writer who has been published in dozens of magazines (including Glamour, Self and Redbook), websites (including AOLHealth.com, Babble.com and Details.com) and newspapers (including The New York Post and the Boston Globe). To read more of her writing, visit AmyLevinEpstein.com.

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