Despite temperatures in the 70s, winter is in full force here. And by “here” I mean the space between my ears. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) reared its ugly head starting in late October, but became more prominent in early December.

I had every reason to be excited about the holidays, yet I found myself sleeping poorly and struggling to get out of bed. My efforts to “give-in” to fatigue resulted in more fatigue, proving it to be mental rather than physical.

I’m not a doctor. I’ve never played one on TV. I didn’t even stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

I have, however, been in this position before. Feelings of sadness find their way into critical thinking, questioning my self-worth. Lack of focus binds me to the couch, wasting hours of my evening on mindless scrolling through social media. Hyper self-focus keeping me from being a wife, daughter, or friend, when those around me open up about what is going on in their lives.

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I want to reiterate: I’m not a doctor. This list isn’t a substitute for professional care or pharmaceuticals. Sometimes, a little extra boost to those essential components makes all the difference in the world.

My Battle Plan

  • Floss

While I’m sure there are some who don’t need this on a daily checklist, I’m not one to floss daily. Call me gross. I deserve it. Finding the time for this personal hygiene task proves difficult for this gal.

Instead of refreshing my Facebook feed yet again, doing a simple act of self-care helps far beyond its traditional benefits. The act of getting up off the couch and walking into the bathroom can be a challenge, and I get an odd sense of satisfaction when the task is complete.

Perhaps I expect to get a sticker for not crying at the dentist office. No matter – it works. Less than 5 minutes of activity keeps me from falling further down the click-hole that is the internet.


  • Make a checklist

The Sunday before Christmas, I energized myself by writing out a to-do list for the first 3 days of the week. I even followed the first day’s list, resulting in a 5-mile run I otherwise would have brushed off. Even though the next couple of days didn’t go as planned, the idea of a list helped me consider what tasks I had in front of my before my holiday guests arrived.

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  • Completing a checklist

Depending on how bad off I am, the items on my list can be pretty lame. I’ll admit to including items such as dress for work, drive to work, be at work – each as their own line item.

There is something to be said, however, at looking down and seeing some purpose to my day. If not for dressing/driving, I wouldn’t be able to clock into work. No hours on-the-job = no paycheck. Each baby step has a purpose, and purpose is something I desperately need when I get down.


  • Set a timer on chores

This tip makes practically every “how-to” list out there, and for good reason. Some evenings, unloading the dishwasher seemed equivalent to climbing Mt. Everest.

Putting dishes away for 5 minutes, however, seems like an easy way to feel accomplished. Inevitably, 5 minutes turns into 10 or 15 or however long it takes to get the job done.

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There is something reassuring about knowing I can quit when the timer goes off if I want. And when I don’t quit, I feel more accomplished than 1 checklist item deserves.


  • Cardio

As much as I love weight training, it’s just not the same boost a good run gives me. For the past few years, I’ve distance trained over the winter months. Despite my original intentions, it looks likes this year will be no different.


Right now, I’m struggling with SAD impairing my writing. I have started several different blogs, only to get distracted or decide they aren’t good enough for public consumption. Instead of waiting it out, I decided to follow my own advice. This checklist has helped me, and I hope you find it useful as well.

Do the shorter days affect your mood? How are your winters affected by more limited sunlight? I’d love for you to share your action plan in the comments.

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