In our society where excellent performance throughout the year is a requirement, it is interesting to see if seasons affect the way we work, interact with colleagues and perform. We will see how they change our behaviour and give you some tips to feel your best at any time of the year.
After a cold winter season, spring represents a new cycle for most people. We are already thinking about our next vacation or how we are going to be fit again for summer. Sun is back, days are longer and we try to enjoy every minute of warm temperature and daylight. According to a study from the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (Plotnikoff, Finch, & Dusek, 2012), being exposed to more sunlight during the day and, therefore, getting more vitamin D will help you to be more productive at work, perform your tasks better, and experience high energy levels. They also help you to be in a better mood.
However, there are some downsides to this nice weather. According to the PNAS study, our capacity to memorize things is less effective during spring than during autumn. During this study, participant’s abilities to perform different tasks were pretty stable throughout the year. But the responses of their brains to the tasks varied by season. Brain responses to tasks requiring sustained attention peaked around the summer solstice and bottomed out around the winter solstice. For tasks that need working memory, participants’ brain functions peaked around the autumn equinox and bottomed out around the spring equinox.
Also, spring can be a particularly stressful time since industries such as fashion or hospitality getting ready for the summer season. Everything must be ready on time in order to perform well.
As days are becoming longer and hotter, we would expect our mood to be 100%. However, often it is the contrary that happens. Indeed, when we were young, summer was the time of the year when we didn’t have to think about school anymore and have more free time with friends. But as grownups now, things feel different because we have to work.
You can sometimes feel sad being stuck in your office while you could be biking throughout the country or going to the beach. It is often a period when you doubt about your career choices and can feel burned out because of the stress of trying to enjoy life and still be 100% at your job. You may ask yourself: Is this what I was looking for as a career? Am I fulfilled with what I do daily? Those questions are normal reflections to make sure what you do for a living still makes sense to you and makes you feel self-accomplished.
A lot of companies operate with reduced staff during summer, especially in corporate environments, because everyone takes their break at this time of the year. You must be prepared because you will probably have to manage clients that are not yours.
Even if the weather at the end of summer is a bit chilly in the Netherlands, autumn is obviously the rainiest time of the year. Feeling sad can also be normal since you’re getting less sun than usual, but you will feel more empathic with your colleagues because you know that they might go through the same phase as you do.
But rain is not always a bad thing for work. Indeed, while it can be a bit more difficult to get out of bed in the morning, it is often easier to be focused and productive during the day when the sun is not here. You don’t have to think about all the fun things you could be doing outside instead of working.
September/October is the time of the year when things speed up after the calm summer period, especially for corporate environments. Everyone is back from their breaks and is ready to create, manage their client relationships, launch a new product and so on.
As the days are officially cold and grey in the Netherlands, the beginning of winter is often pretty calm. We are all waiting for the holiday season and spending time with our families. You might experience something called ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’ (SAD) which is a mood disorder causing depression, difficulty sleeping, low energy level, being unfocused and so on. This disorder can affect us when the days are short and dark when we are low in vitamin D. Going outside for a walk as often as possible is a good way to avoid seasonal depression. You might also consider doing some light therapy with a specific type of lamp.
From January, things are going to speed up a little since it’s the beginning of a new year. Companies usually set their annual goals around this time. Maybe they will hire a new member of the team or reevaluate budgets according to the previous year’s performance. It is a nice opportunity to learn new skills or extend your expertise to other fields for example. Take this time to set your own professional goals and persevere to achieve them during the year.
Every professional experience shifts throughout the year. Depending on your job, some seasons might be more stressful than others. Therefore, it is important to appreciate what you do so that you can stay as motivated as possible and do a great job.
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