Gadgets to help you stay happy at work this winter
Don't get overwhelmed by the winter blues. As the nights get longer, these great buys will help lift your mood, improve your environment and fight the symptoms of SAD.
There's a lot to like about winter, but also a lot that isn't so great. The dark mornings, short days, cold and damp, can leave us feeling sluggish at best and, at worst, depressed. Most of the time, we're not getting out and meeting each other much. Then ironically, the run-up to Christmas involves so much enforced socialising that it can feel overwhelming too.
Sufferers of SAD (seasonally adjusted depression), meanwhile, have it doubly bad. If they don't get enough bright light during their day, it can trigger symptoms like low mood, irritability, depression, lack of energy and motivation and overtiredness.
That's because the lack of sunlight interferes with the function of the brain's hypothalamus and boosts the production of melatonin, which makes you sleepy, reduces serotonin, the 'happiness hormone', and messes with your body's internal clock.
When you're feeling down, we'll often reach for the credit card and indulge in some retail therapy in order to cheer ourselves up. And there's nothing wrong with that… except when we end up buying things we don't need and regret paying for, further reinforcing the cycle of suckiness.
There are some things to spend your money on, though, that can actually help with our mental health and general mood during winter. We're talking about feeling comfortable, getting a good night's sleep, making your home office more comfortable and just enjoying domestic life more. In short, here are some top buys to help fight the winter blues.
1. Relieve SAD symptoms with a Vitamin L lamp
There are many LED lamps for SAD on the market, which all basically work in the same way: they bathe you in lots of light to alleviate the lack of general sunlight you get in winter. What's different about this one from Lumie is that it's so slim, light and compact (28 x 20 x 3cm). Shaped like an iPad, you can take it anywhere, it doesn't take up much space on your desk, and it comes with a handy stand to prop it up in either portrait or landscape formation.
UV-free and certified as a medical device to ISO 13485 standards, it offers an impressive 10,000 lux when placed 16cm away and 2500 lux at 50cm. A rippled effect diffuser softens the light and makes it feel less harsh than pure white light.
2. Improve sleep with a Tempur Ergonomic Pillow
Having trouble sleeping? This ergonomic pillow, filled with memory foam, is specially shaped for specific sleeping positions to help relieve discomfort in your head, neck and shoulders. That makes it heavier and more solid than a normal pillow, which can feel a little strange at first. But it securely cradles your head in a way that feather or polyester-filled pillows just can't and gets good reviews from osteopaths and ordinary consumers alike.
3. Purify your air with a Snake Plant
This hardy and low-maintenance houseplant from Beards & Daisies is one of the best for improving the air quality of your home or studio. Known for removing toxins like formaldehyde, ammonia and carbon monoxide from the air, it has distinctive long upright leaves with yellow edges. It's native to tropical West Africa and more tolerant of low light than other houseplants, making a great buy for this time of year.
4. Invest in a standing desk for your home or office with a FlexiSpot Standing Desk
As humans, we're not designed by evolution to sit: there are no sofas in the savannah. So one of the best ways to give yourself more energy, boost your mood and protect your spine is to switch between sitting and standing at your desk. We recommend the latest from FlexiSpot, a standing desk called the Q8, which is not just eco-friendly and sustainable, but it also has diverse charging options, keyboard-table top integration, a powerlifting system, a gentle curved design – and for those tidy freaks amongst you, a cable management system. It's not the cheapest option out there, but it's certainly of high quality and built to last.
5. Keep your spine happy on the move with a Harmoni Standing Desk
For those times when you're using co-working spaces (or for those who don't want to splash out on a permanent standing desk for home), why not use this handy creation, which turns a normal desk into a standing one? Crafted from strong and sturdy birch plywood, with a light colour and smooth finish, it comes with two shelves: a smaller one for laptops and a larger one for keyboards.
6. Blast out your tunes with a LSX II Wireless HiFi System
Nothing is guaranteed to improve your mood more than some great music. But rather than relying on your tinny laptop or tablet speaker, why not invest in a decent hi-fi system, so you can enjoy your favourite tunes in high precision clarity? This all-in-one speaker system delivers a beautifully balanced sound with all-inclusive connectivity. Stream via AirPlay 2, Chromecast, Spotify and Tidal, or seamlessly connect to your laptop, TV and other devices.
7. Make writing a pleasure with a limited-edition Caran d'Ache 849 ballpoint pen
Writing should be a joy and a pleasure, not a chore. So treat yourself to this gorgeous, limited edition ballpoint pen from the iconic Caran d'Ache brand. The signature hexagonal barrel gives it a streamlined silhouette and aesthetic appeal, whilst the simple push button mechanism and long-lasting Goliath refill make it an eminently practical choice too.
8. Declutter and stay organised with this toolbox from Hay
Tidy home, tidy mind, as they say. And if you're looking to declutter, you'll love this toolbox from award-winning, Stockholm-based designer Shane Schneck. Handy and practical, this quirky plastic box features extra compartments at the sides and top of the handle to optimise storage space. It's available in grey or dusty green and measures 21 x 30.5 x 14.5cm.
9. Have everything where you need it, with Hay Colour Crates
Here's another great storage solution from Hay. These delightful storage boxes are made from 100% recycled plastic waste and can be stacked on top of one another in different size combinations. Boasting a distinctive, perforated design, they're suitable for storing and organising a wide range of items on shelves, tables or inside cupboards.
10. Happiness is a new pencil case for September
Is your house covered in random stationery, yet you can never find what you need? Then you'll be pleased to know that Present/Correct's lovely leather envelopes have had a makeover and now come in five new colours: Blush, Sky, Coffee, Yolk and Forest. Handmade in London and measuring 200x100mm, they close with a brass stud and are perfect for pencils, pens and other office accoutrements.
11. Beat stress with this awesome 1960s abacus
It seems the more digital our lives become, the more we crave old-fashioned, analogue gadgets And here's a great example. This large 1960s desk abacus is in excellent condition and comes with the original box. Constructed of a perfect gradient of yellow, orange, and reds through to a dark purple, it measures 51cm in diameter and 16cm in height and features plastic counters, a wooden base and a wire framework.