It’s February. It’s cold. I’m tired.
This is not depression, at least, not for me. It’s this thing that comes and goes, but seems particularly sticky in February.
My excuse is that I live in one of the coldest cities on the planet and, despite the shortness of the month, February is particularly cold. After the rush of Christmas and then New Years, there’s only March to look forward to. March is not a particularly hopeful month for those of us in the Canadian prairies. It usually means storms. It can be a particularly long month, when you’re waiting for signs of spring.
This week, after a particularly nasty cold/flu combo, I find my outlook on life less than optimistic. Everything seems like just a bit too much. I’m too tired to jump into the things that normally interest me, and now that I’m past the feverish stage, I’m restless and bored and irritable. I look at my to do list and feel overwhelmed, I try to think about what I thought was going well, last week and feel slightly discouraged that things do not seem to be going as well this week as they seemed last week. I try to do things that feel nice, eat some chocolate, take a hot bath, listen to an audiobook, take a nap, I even manage to get out for a short walk. But nothing quite lifts my mood, headache or agitation.
I know I’m not alone. Many find February difficult. For me, this is mostly sickness recovery mode, for others this feeling can last all winter.
For those who experience the winter blues for long periods of time, a system of self care which includes regular exercise, a good diet, getting outside, a sun lamp, connecting with friends and family are all important to keep one going. It’s not easy in our climate. This year, the cold has been extreme, and the snow, which I rely on to get me out skiing, has been sparse. At times I’ve been overworked and haven’t taken the break I need. At other times, my body decides to take its own break through injury or sickness. There are always reasons behind why I feel the way I do. But it’s not too late. I can still do 15 minutes of stretching today, spend some time connecting with my family, and seek out some form of entertainment that won’t leave me feeling worse than when I started it – and then tomorrow, this cold/flu should be done, I’ll do a few more items on my to do list and start to feel better about things.
The trick is not to never feel down. The trick is to know that it won’t last forever and to continue to do what you know helps, even if the results are not instantaneous. There are many reasons for these periods of ‘blueness.’ It can be helpful to assess the circumstances:
- How much sleep have you had lately?
- Have you been drinking more often than usual? (alcohol is a depressant).
- How often are you getting outside?
- Are you fighting a cold/flu? For myself, this slump sometimes shows up when I first take some time off after a particularly busy/stressful time. It’s like everything just crashes for a bit, including my mood.
- For women, consider what part of your cycle you are in and note if you have similar feelings at this time each cycle.
- Are you dealing with conflicts in your relationships?
- Is there a new level of stress within your workplace?
- Are you worried about something… such as instability in your finances?
Knowing what is causing your low mood, can help you to better understand what you need to move past it.
For more self care advice, check out How to Make a First Aid Kit for Your Emotions – Part I and Your Emotional First Aid Kit- Part II and What do You Really Need? – A 6 Step Complete Self-Care Assessment Guide for more self care ideas.