February is the hardest month of winter for me. It is dreary, bleak, and dark--both literally and figuratively. It is like the Monday's of months. If you live in the North or somewhere with seasonal changes, chances are that you feel this way too. The winter blues do not have to hit so hard when you prepare yourself with mental fuel and perspective.
The changes that we feel in the winter are very real. For most, the days are shorter, the temperature is colder, and the motivation of the New Year has worn off. Without fail, each year I hit a point in February where I have the sudden compulsion to hop on a plane to a tropical island. This year, I am looking at it more clinically.
Whenever anything has a pattern it becomes easier for us to predict and, therefore, to fix. I often hear people tell me that this winter blues pattern occurs every year for them as well, and yet we do not do anything to fix it. It is as if we know we cannot control the weather, so we succumb to the feelings that go along with the season.
As an alternative, what if we acknowledge that these winter blues are very real? Awareness is always the first step to change. Even better, we can proactively plan for our needs in the winter by breaking it up. Maybe planning that trip ahead of time so there is something to look forward to. Or perhaps making time for something enjoyable in the winter, like a class or snow sport.
We can always be present in the moment, enjoy watching the snow fall or cozy up in something warm. We can remind ourselves that the season of winter symbolizes ridding ourselves of old patterns and engaging in new ones. Planting the seeds that will take hold in later seasons. The seasons each bring a vital energy to nature as well as to ourselves.
When being present gets to be too much, we can remind ourselves that winter is fleeting. In a matter of weeks we will be enjoying longer days and warmer weather and the memories of the winter blues will be a thing of the past.
**Please note that winter blues is very different from the clinical diagnosis of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). If you are suffering from SAD, please reach out to a medical provider for help.