woman on a couch with a laptop and blanketWorking from home is glorious in so many ways. Productive, pleasant and afterwards — you can smugly do whatever you want, while the office-bound masses commute their lives away.

But there’s a dark side. It’s called winter.

If you work from home, the short days and cold nights can really get to you. It’s a combination of claustrophobia and agoraphobia. You feel closed in, but don’t want to go anywhere.

A couple of my colleagues recently told me:

“Let’s get together before it gets cold and I won’t leave my house.”

“I dread winter so much I didn’t even enjoy October.”

“Winter is coming. We must prepare.”

Oh, wait. That last one’s from HBO’s Game of Thrones. (Well, at least we don’t have to worry about White Walkers in real life.)

One in five Americans work from home. As we head into winter, here are some strategies to stay productive in winter and keep a sunny disposition when the sun won’t shine:

Let there be light

The government took away our 100-watt incandescent light bulbs in 2012. Call me dim, but it took me a while to figure out why things were getting so hard to see. I’m stocking up on the brightest bulbs I can still get my hands on — like halogen and LED — that help me feel less hemmed in by the lack of natural light.

A little full-spectrum therapy light box sits on my desk. It’s supposed to be more like the sun’s light. The idea is that 20 minutes each morning (off to the side, not directly in your eyes) can help treat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). My winter blahs aren’t clinical, but this ounce of prevention may be worth a pound of cure…or chocolate.

Vitamin D determination

Chances are pretty good that you, like me, are deficient in Vitamin D. More than 60% of  North Americans are. Vitamin D can make a big difference in your energy level. Take a Vitamin D pill daily and you might see some big changes.

Bundle up

Apparently, people in Norway say, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes.”

I quit walking my dog when it dips below 55 degrees, but this year, I’ll venture out with an extra layer to see how it goes. I’m also going to upgrade my winter clothes — and throw away that bulky sweater from 1992. If I feel more confident in what I’m wearing, I might even talk to more people. Rumor has it that stores, restaurants, libraries and gyms stay open all winter!