An important article on SAD from our guest blogger Kimberly Hayes.

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5 Tricks for Conquering SAD

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) affects about 5 percent of the American population, reports  the Mental Health America. And those who suffer from SAD know that it is more than just a mild case of winter blues. It can cause severe depression, anxiety, and mood swings.


What Causes SAD?

The cause of SAD is not fully understood by science. However, there are specific factors that may play a part. Waning sunlight can trigger changes in the body’s circadian rhythm, the internal “clock” that tells us when to sleep and wake. This sunlight reduction may stall the body’s production of the mood-regulating neurotransmitter serotonin. Another brain chemical, melatonin, which aids with sleep, is also affected during the seasonal sunlight deficit. The combination of off-balance chemicals and a disrupted rhythm take a toll on the mind and body.


But there are ways to combat the symptoms of SAD, and it starts by simply stepping outside.

1.  Sunlight

One of the most effective treatments for SAD is sunlight. Even though there is less of it in the winter, it helps to soak in as many rays as possible by getting outside when the sun is up. Try going for a hike or playing outside with the kids for a couple of hours. Also, keep your curtains open when you do have to be indoors. Both the exercise and extra sun will positively affect your hormone levels. On gloomy days when there is just no sunlight to be found, Harvard Health Publishing recommends using light therapy with devices called “light boxes,” that put off bright light. Sitting near these for a certain period of time each day has proven helpful for people with SAD.

2.  Plant Something

Gardening can be a wonderful remedy for depression symptoms. Contact with soil has been shown to increase serotonin levels because of a bacteria present called mycobacterium vaccae. Just digging in the dirt can give you an instant boost of happiness. Harvesting fruits and vegetables has also been shown to give people a little boost by causing the brain to release dopamine. This action comes into play by seeing, smelling, or plucking the produce.

3.  Exercise

Studies show that consistent exercise is extremely effective in combating clinical depression, and it works the same for even mild depression and SAD. Exercise causes your body to release more endorphins and stabilizes other hormone imbalances in the brain. So, the more consistently you work out, the better you should feel.

4.  Connect With Others

Depression can be very isolating, but one of the best treatments for depression recovery is connecting with other people, and you can do that in many ways. Ask a group of friends to meet up for a long-overdue lunch. Join a support group or local church group. Get involved in the community by volunteering or attending social events. Anything to draw yourself out into the world is beneficial for your mental health.

5.  Find Enjoyable Activities

Sometimes just doing something you enjoy can help ease the symptoms of depression. Check out a book at the library or re-read one you love. Just steer clear of sad tales that may add to your depression. You can also go out and watch a movie. Even going alone can prove to be just the stress-free evening you needed. Anything that brings you joy can be a great activity to give you a little happiness boost.


While any of these activities alone may not provide a complete cure for depression or SAD, they can certainly help alleviate the symptoms and make other methods more effective if you choose to use them. Some people also find it necessary to seek counseling or medication when the symptoms are too difficult to manage alone. And it’s important to know that there is no shame in getting help. If you stay active in managing your symptoms, you may soon find that they become easier and easier to combat.


For more information from Kimberly Hayes (Chief Blogger), please contact









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Employers must place greater importance on mental health in the workplace

As a society, we need to recognise that more proactive action needs to be in place to address the issues of mental health in the workplace. This is not only to consider the health and benefits to employees, but also to the obligation of employers who are legally obliged to to take certain steps to protect staff legally considered to be disabled.


The Statistics

1 in 6 workers suffer from anxiety, stress and depression and unmanageable stress each year.

74% of people with a mental health problem lasting more than a year are out of work.

55% of people with anxiety or depression for more than a year are out of work.

49% of workers state that they would not feel able to disclose their mental health issues to their employer.

The costs relating to mental  ill health for employers has been calculated at £26 Billion per year.

in 2015, 18 million working days were lost through sickness absence related to mental health

People with severe and enduring mental health issues are more likley to die 15-20 years younger than the national average.

What does this mean for you?

In January 2017, the Prime Minister commisioned a review by  Lord Stevenson and Paul Farmer (CEO of Mind and Chair of the NHS Mental Health Taskforce) to review mental health support in the workplace.

They have been tasked at looking into recommendations around extending protection from discrimination in the workplace relating to mental ill health that can be episodic and fluctuating. They have also been asked to review Health and Safety regulations, and to look into first aid training that includes mental health factors,

As an Employer, what can you do?

At TRC Solutions, we provide a range of mental health training to all levels within your organisation. This is to frontline staff, and managers/HR professionals. We also provide advice to senior management about culture and communication around mental health issues within the workplace.

We encourage employers to create a culture of support and openess, so that employees who need support can seek it without fear and stigma.

We support employers to look at their policies around sickness absence, and examine them to see if they actually support their staff who may have mental health issues. In some cases, sickness absence policies can encourage staff to return to work when they may not be fit to do so. This is likely to reduce productivity, and will cost the employer more than sickness absence in the longer term.

We also provide training and advice to managers on how to identify and manage staff that are at risk of becoming unwell at work. Included in this advice is how to manage and support staff that have left on sickness absence, and how to successfully manage their return to work,

What Next?

Mental health is quite clearly in the public agenda at this time (and quite rightly so). It is no longer a taboo, but mental health within the workplace remains an issue that is rarely discussed until there is a problem.

At TRC Solutions, our aim is to prevent mental health issues becoming a problem for both employees and the employer. For the employer, prevention is much cheaper than dealing with the cure. For most employees, they are often unaware that they may be at risk of mental health related issues and will often struggle until they can no longer carry on.

Our aim is to create more discussion around mental wellbeing in the workplace. If you have have any comments or feedback, please share and let us know your thoughts.