“Why do I live where the air hurts my face?”
I saw that message on Twitter recently, and it made me smile. But it brings to mind the fact that it is cold all the time these days… The daylight is elusive… It’s dark when we wake, and dark again when we head home after work… There’s no denying that the winter season affects how we live our lives here in the Great White North.
But does it affect your business?
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can affect people in varying ways, such as feeling run-down, withdrawing from social interactions, oversleeping and overeating. Those are some pretty significant effects on people, and estimates suggest that between 2%-6% of Canadians experience SAD.
Look around at the people in your life—your staff, your clients, or even yourself—and you might just see how SAD is having an affect your business. Productivity may be down, as folks’ energy levels are low. People may be reluctant to schedule meetings, as they hunker down and cocoon themselves, just waiting for the warmer weather to return.
And researchers have uncovered evidence that SAD can impact people’s willingness to take financial risks. Stock markets in regions that experience significant winter months (like here in Canada) show significant downturns that reflect temperature drops. Apparently when populations collectively experience winter, the entire economy can take a hit.
So what can you do about it?
Experts recommend that you get as much sunlight as you can—take a walk, sit near windows, or even invest in an indoor sun lamp. (Getting exposure to sunlight is also necessary to bolster your Vitamin D levels, but that’s a story for another day…)
But there isn’t much one can do about the macro challenges of SAD’s impact on the economy, other than recognizing that while it seems forever away, the warmer weather will one day return. And with the sun, we hope, will come a brighter fiscal outlook.
Devin Kreuger is Director of the Office of the Vice-Principal Research at the University of Toronto Mississauga. He can be contacted at [email protected] Visit www.utm.utoronto.ca/research