Written By: Girl Tyler
Summer is long gone. Fall is winding down and winter is slowly creeping onto the horizon. Yes, it’s that time of year again — already. The days are getting shorter, temperatures are taking a dip and you may be feeling a bit moody or maybe just a little “off”. You’re feeling sad although you can’t quite pinpoint what brought it on. Well, there’s a legitimate reason for the sudden change in your emotions. According to psychotherapist and workplace wellness expert Farah Harris, LCPC, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), commonly known as seasonal depression, impacts people of color because of how our bodies respond to environmental changes.
“African-Americans have a higher rate of Vitamin D deficiency, so the lack of sunshine on our melanin skin can literally impact our mood,” Harris said. “However, due to the increase of mental health stigma in the Black community and the unhealthy mantra, that Black women need to be strong and magical, many Black women can be impacted by SAD and resign to keep their experience to themselves.”Harris went on to say that symptoms of depression in Black women are often hidden behind a need for control, busyness, and exerting more empathy for others than self. If this time of year brings on overwhelming emotions or unexplained sadness, she shared these valuable tips to help maintain a healthy mindset.
FEEL YOUR FEELINGS
Harris suggests spending intentional time to acknowledge and assess your feelings, but don’t wallow in them. “Black women often don’t give themselves permission to feel tender emotions because they are often encouraged to be strong,” she said. “Share your feelings, whether it be with friends and family, or with a therapist. Make sure that you aren’t suffering in silence.”
REACH FOR VITAMIN D
She also recommended upping your Vitamin D intake. “You can do this by taking Vitamin D supplements, or the use of a sun lamp/light box. This lamp mimics sunlight and can enhance your mood.”
MOVE YOUR BODY
Whether you’re back at work or in a remote environment, carve out time in your schedule for a workout. “Physical activity such as exercise has shown to decrease symptoms of depression. Exercise benefits your brain by increasing memory, relieving stress and improving your sleep. All things that can be beneficial to improving your daily function.”
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF NATURAL LIGHT
Avoid being cooped up indoors all day if you can. “Do your best to go out as much as you can during the daylight hours. A quick walk around the block may actually help elevate your mood, clear your mind, and give an extra bit of energy. Many of us are home more than ever before, so to decrease the likelihood of cabin fever, make sure to step outside even if it’s for 5-10 minutes.”
WRITE IT OUT
Harris also suggests taking inventory of your thoughts and emotions by journaling. “Recognize your triggers and possibly log in the time of the day in which you experience a decline in your mood/energy. This way you can be proactive in your self-care and mindset.”
SET A REALISTIC SLEEP SCHEDULE
Are you truly resting at night? It may be time to adjust your sleep routine. “Try your best to go to bed and wake up at the same time daily. During this season, our sleep pattern can be thrown off. This disruption in [your] schedule can keep you up later than usual, leaving you more fatigued throughout the day.”
Find happiness by any means necessary. “Everything isn’t all sad and dying during this time. Be intentional in finding things that you do enjoy about this time. Is it snuggling under warm blankets, pumpkin spice lattes, fall or holiday décor? Whatever it is, delight in it.”