How to prevent Valentine’s Day depression in the office

February 8, 2017
Valentine’s Day depression

Image by Dubova / Shutterstock, Inc

For many people, Valentine’s Day is a happy time of the year. It provides lovers with the perfect excuse to rekindle their romance, and gives those without love the motivation to get out there and find it.

But not everybody shares the same enthusiasm for this traditional celebration. In fact, looming behind the chocolates, roses and weekends away, are a grim set of statistics that paint a very unhappy picture.

Today, we’ll be looking at “Valentine’s Day depression”, and how you can prevent it to make sure your whole workforce has a great day.

Valentine’s Day depression is a very real issue

We get a lot of calls and cases from employees suffering from depression and similar emotional issues this time of yearsays Dean Debnam, CEO of work/life benefits company Workplace Options. “These issues become bad for the individual and bad for business”.

This is more than just people feeling a bit sad because they are single. In fact, the Missouri Suicide Crisis Hotline says that they get up to 50% more calls on Valentine’s Day than they do on regular days in the year.

So what can we do to be more sensitive to people who really dislike this time of the year?

Five ways to help all your employees feel happier on Valentine’s Day

We spent some time talking to real people who dread Valentine’s Day. Based on their feedback, here are five things you can do as an employer, to help knock Valentine’s Day depression on its head – and to make sure everybody has a great time.

1. Arrange a fun non-Valentine’s Day group activity

Kai works in sales and marketing. And she hates Valentine’s Day. She thinks it is over-commercialised and ‘in your face’, and so we asked her how she overcomes this.

Every year, I throw an Anti-Valentine’s Day party at a local bar” she says. “Everyone wears black and we find comradery by getting drunk and being together as a group (as opposed to a “date”).

Having fun as a group is a great way to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your employees, including those who really hate the day. But if you want it to work, it has to be strictly non-Valentine. The idea is to avoid anybody feeling like the day is being rubbed in their face. People who want to get all loved up can do it – in their own time, at their own location.

2. Buy flowers for everybody

For some employees, getting flowers from their boss might feel like getting a Valentine’s Day card from their mother. But according to Certified Laughter Leader Bobbe White, it doesn’t really matter where the flowers come from – it only matters that they’re there!

Fifteen years ago, I had an epiphany!” she says. “Although I’m married, I knew I wasn’t going to get flowers (again) for Valentine’s Day, and decided to take matters into my own hands. I bought my own. Yes, I did. I went to the grocery floral section on the way to work February 14th and bought a long-stemmed rose, some greenery and I found a bit of Baby’s Breath in their trash can. I pulled a sweet card from the rack and wrote:

*And you thought I forgot!*

Now, for five bucks or less, I finally have flowers on my desk on Valentine’s Day! And got rid of the stress. I even have them earlier than the ones that are delivered. I proudly walk into work on February 14th, with my flowers. And everybody knows they’re not from anybody but me. But I have a GREAT day. People stop by my desk, sniff the rose, read the card and say, Awwwwww how sweet! It makes a fun day for me.

3. Laughter is the best medicine

I’m not just saying this because I’ve just been talking to a Certified Laughter Leader. Laughter really can be the best medicine!

According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter has so many health benefits, including:

  • Stimulating happiness. You might think happiness causes laughter, but did you know that laughter itself causes happiness? Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, which stimulates your organs, and increases the endorphins released by your brain.
  • Relieving stress. Laughter actively combats the physical symptoms of stress, by stimulating circulation and helping your muscles relax.
  • Enhancing the mood. The Mayo Clinic also says that laughter lifts the mood, and helps to reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Isn’t this just what you want when somebody in the office is suffering Valentine’s Day depression?

So what should you do to promote laughter? I guess that’s up to you, based on the kind of environment you work in. But hiring a comedian for the day wouldn’t be a bad place to start!

4. Get physical

No romance-related puns here, please. I’m talking strictly about getting your team to exercise, for example by going on a brisk walk or jog halfway through the day.

The benefits of exercise are countless. And in terms of combating depression, there’s plenty of evidence to say that being physically active is a great way to relieve symptoms.

Of course, is quick to point out that exercise alone will not beat severe depression. But as a tool to help keep the symptoms at bay during tough times of the year – such as Valentine’s Day – exercise is definitely something you should encourage your team to do.

Why not go for a group jog at lunch time? Or even offer to pay for lunch… on the proviso that your team walks with you to the next-farthest set of shops!

5. Bring your pet to work day

Do a quick search on Twitter, and you’ll find people like Alyssa sarcastically commenting on how happy they are to be spending Valentine’s Day with their cat this year. But here’s the thing: pets really do bring us comfort when we’re feeling low or lonely!

While you might not want to consider opening up your own zoo, it might bring a bit of happiness to the workplace if you allow a friendly dog in the office for the day. Of course, you should first make sure nobody has an allergy – and you should follow the advice given by Cesar’s Way on how to bring a dog to work:

  1. Give the dog a safe place of their own, like a basket or a pillow
  2. Make sure to only allow dogs that are well-trained and well-behaved
  3. Ensure the dog’s owner understands the need to constantly supervise its behaviour
  4. Only allow dogs into the office who are healthy and fully-vaccinated
  5. Bring in plenty of dog toys to keep the pet entertained

Lots of companies, including Amazon and Ben & Jerry’s have “dog policies” for owners who wish to bring their pet. The important thing is making sure everybody – including the dog – stays safe.

Oh, and because dogs need walking… it’s a great way to encourage employees to get regular exercise throughout the day!

What are your office plans for Valentine’s Day?

We hope that this advice might help you look after the health and wellbeing of all your employees on Valentine’s Day. Now it’s over to you.

What will you be doing on February 14th? And are you doing anything different this year to help make sure Valentine’s Day depression doesn’t raise its ugly head?

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