Seasonal Affective Disorder (for which the acronym is SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, typically starting in the late fall and early winter and going away during the spring and summer. It is commonly referred to as the “winter blues,” and symptoms include having low energy, overeating, craving carbohydrates and social withdrawal. One in every 10 people in the adult U.S. population suffers from winter blues.

There are a couple of attributes which increase the risk of SAD, including your age (millennials and generation Z have a higher risk of SAD) and family history. But the two most worrisome to black women are simply the fact that they ARE black women. Seasonal affective disorder occurs four times more often in women than in men, and Vitamin D insufficiency has been associated with clinically significant depressive symptoms. This is particularly troublesome because Vitamin D levels within black people are notoriously low, even at times called our “hidden epidemic” by experts.

Fortunately for black millennial women, there are new experiences emerging within the health and wellness industry which alleviate seasonal affective disorder. Some encourage resting and recharging in solitude, another promotes the use of natural remedies to literally refill your energy cup. Some of which require you to leave the comfort of your home while another can be performed in your office between meetings. If you have recognized some of the symptoms above in your behavior recently, consider trying one of these new health and wellness trends. 

Embark on a mini fit-cation

More and more women are opting out of visiting friends and family during the wintertime to experience personal fit-cations. A fit-cation is a fitness-focused vacation that includes a myriad of activities, from yoga to swimming and even biking tours. Fit-cations serve two purposes: travelers are partaking in a form of psychotherapy, which has been proven to be effective for seasonal affective disorder. Instead of thinking negative thoughts about spending the winter months with family, they’re replacing them with more positive, engaging and pleasurable memories. Also, in “fit-cationing” and spending time connecting with themselves, they’re removing distractions and revitalizing their bodies. Being alone on a fit-cation is not a sign of loneliness, and although these retreats might not come equipped with the typical dose of Vitamin D offered during a winter getaway, they do alleviate seasonal affective disorder. The link between fitness and mood is pretty strong, and studies show exercise helps alleviate long-term depression.

Attend a natural happy hour

Millennials are not strangers to happy hours and socializing with girlfriends over drinks after work. But recently, millennial women have eliminated alcohol and infused their warm winter cocktails with all natural ingredients like nutmeg, lavender and rosemary in hopes to bring cheer to more than just their seasonal spirit. After all, when added to a regimen recommended by a doctor, natural herbs and spices have incredible healing properties. The next time you’re at a happy hour with girlfriends, forego the alcohol and opt for a non-alcoholic lavender hot chocolate, which includes almond milk, dark chocolate, vanilla, local honey and lavender essential oil.

Meditate within your office

Low energy is a symptom of seasonal affective disorder, and instead of running to a nearby coffee shop for a bit of extra energy to get through the day, those affected by SAD can turn to meditation instead. Contrary to popular belief, studies have shown meditation increases a person’s energy level. For those who can't leave their office, Mindfresh is a new solution. Mindfresh is the name of a company founded by a woman who worked for high-growth media companies in NYC and ended up with chronic back pain, insomnia and anxiety. She was losing herself in her work and decided to start a company which was a fusion of mindful movement, meditation & breathing techniques. From San Francisco to Charlotte, Mindfresh has become the most powerful mindfulness formula for those who work in an office, offering meditation experiences specifically "for people who sit all day long." All you’ll need for a few minutes to escape from your office is a chair and personal space.