The winter always brings the beauty of fresh snow hitting the ground, cheesy holiday movies, incredible sales, and a chance to spend the holidays with loved ones. What people typically don’t mention about end of year is the emotional and psychological impact of the sun going to bed earlier than we do. Unfortunately, colder, darker weather is more often than not accompanied by seasonal depression and seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD.

Oftentimes occurring due to the drastic weather change, holiday stress, or even time change, DMV-based licensed psychotherapist Taylor Allie explains the definition of SAD. "It’s basically when you feel a bit outside yourself because of the particular season that we’re in. A lot of times, it’s associated only with winter because there’s less light, it’s colder, and we tend to have generally more severe mood changes over the holiday season, but there are winter-pattern and summer-pattern seasonal affective disorder."

Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, work from home orders and the option to work remotely has increased significantly. Commuting to and from work is one thing, but when your office is a few paces away from where you sleep, it becomes hard to separate the personal from professional—making it difficult to establish clear boundaries. What happens when our already dreaded isolation is topped with the burden of high-rated work performance, showing up virtually as our best selves, and still managing to keep our heads on straight before and after our corporate obligations?

“People find they aren't able to separate home and work, and it becomes difficult for them to set up boundaries, thus leading to overworking,” human resources professional and President of The ElevateHer, LLC Nakisha Hicks says.

The initial impact of working from home was a means of escapism for most Black professionals—from the many micro and macro aggressions that occur in the workplace. As the years have passed, that shock and excitement has worn off and evolved into anxiety, which Hicks describes as an “introvert’s dream and an extrovert’s nightmare.”

"It took people out of community and instead made people work in silos," she says. "From an HR perspective, it became a bit of a challenge for us to be able to check in on people and supply that resource to really think about how it’s impacting the mental health and wellbeing of staff."

Here's what a few other mental health experts, counselors, and psychologists had to say about defeating seasonal affective disorder while working from home.

Take Advantage and Have Meaningful Alone Time

"Healthy alone time can be any moment of solitude that does not cause distress. When working from home, that time can look like taking a drive somewhere, watch a favorite TV show, or even doing a creative activity (drawing, painting, puzzles, etc.)," shared Brentia Caldwell, Ed.S., LPC, NCC, ACS, CPCS. "These low maintenance activities are more in alignment with navigating seasonal depression, as this condition does not always allow for heavily involved or intense expending of energy. Partaking in enjoyable activities while navigating seasonal depression and remote work is crucial to establishing and maintaining personal wellness, in that it provides energy and emotional outlets, interpersonal and intrapersonal connection, and work-life balance."

Have a Daily Routine

"There is often the assumption that routines are only for children," says EMDR Certified Therapist Alicia Tetteh, LCSW, RYT- 200 "However, routines help adults maintain a sense of balance and control as well. When we know what to expect, there is a sense of ease, and it often alleviates feelings of anxiety. Small things to do include setting a timer for screen time, writing down positive reframes for negative thinking, and finding one small thing daily that brings joy."

Get Off Social Media

"In this day and age, being able to work anywhere in the world has been glamorized on social media. In reality, most WFH staffers work in isolation, which can lead to seasonal depression," explains Nandi Nelson, LCSW, BCBA. "This is why it is important for WFH staffers to connect with their friends and colleagues outside social media, which can help to increase their dopamine level. WFH staffers can connect with friends and colleagues by attending holiday parties, scheduling time to meet for lunch/coffee or attending community events."

Put On Your Good Clothes

“If getting dressed is a reflection of how we feel, never save an outfit for a special occasion. Every day is an occasion. Getting dressed to WFH, makes working from home, your runway. With seasonal depression around the corner, always look your best," says Christian Howard, LPC/CMHC. "That’s how you trick the mind to fight back. Be intentional with your space (environment) and vessel (body/appearance). We call that, a mindful slay.”

Go Outside and Get Some Vitamin D

"African Americans have a higher rate of vitamin D deficiency. Lower levels, caused by low dietary intake or not enough sunlight exposure, have been traced to people with seasonal affective disorder. Therefore, the lack of sunlight on our skin can cause a greater impact on our mood," says LaKendria “Ken” Ellis, CEO of Ken Kounsels, LLC. "Sunlight provides vitamin D, a key agent against seasonal depression, commonly referred to as the sun vitamin because our skin creates it when exposed to UV light. Maximizing our time in the sun increases our exposure to vitamin D which is a key component to minimizing symptoms."

Set Boundaries

"Studies reflect that 4-6% of the population will experience symptoms [of seasonal depression] such as, but not limited to, lack of energy, difficulty sleeping and feelings of sadness," explains Alelia Watson M.A, LPC-S. "What quick tactics can be put in place to help combat these negative feelings around such a joyous time of the year? We call them boundaries, which are a form of self-care because it creates a healthy set of rules as it relates to you and others. When implemented from a place of peace, it creates more space and time for yourself."