For most of my adult life I’ve hated the month of February. I don’t use the word hate often because there is very little in this life I hate, but I really have hated this month with the possible exception of Valentine’s Day. Why? I used to think it was because of the weather, the part of the country I lived in. anything but my own biology, until I found out about SAD (seasonal affective disorder). It used to be quite frustrating to feel the downward spiral and not know what to do about it. I could feel the sadness and depression coming, and it felt like there wasn’t a thing I could do about it other than hang on for dear life until spring came. Spring seemed to be the magic elixir for all my ills, so I learned to hate the times I felt like my emotions and mental health were out of my control aka February. In March things always took a turn for the better because we celebrated two of my sons’ birthdays, we had basketball tournaments which got the adrenaline pumping and there’s March madness. For this basketball loving mom, it was exactly what I needed to pull me out of my yearly funk.
As the years have passed, I learned that there are several ways to cope with the downward spiral and occasionally avoid it all together. Before I had children, I nearly always vacationed in February where it was sunny and warm. Those trips did wonders to ward off the seasonal blues and carry me through to spring. After the kids came and started school, the February vacations stopped and the blues got worse, then I found out about vitamin D. Apparently, those of us who live in the northern hemisphere tend to be deficient in that particular vitamin, and some call it sunshine in a bottle so I tried it. It helped. Then I upped the dose, and it helped more. February became bearable, and I was so very grateful.
A couple of years ago, I learned about light therapy and how sitting in front of a full spectrum light could help with SAD, and thanks to the greatest husband ever, I got a full spectrum light box as a Christmas gift. Now I understand that some women would be insulted by a gift like that because they told me they would, but I was delighted. To me, that meant that my husband not only believed that what I experienced was real, he was willing to do what he could to help me, and he did help me. I use that light box nearly every day in February, especially when the days of gray and dreariness seem to go on without end. That box along with yoga, meditation and everything else I’ve mentioned not only make the month bearable, they make it possible for me to shine.
Last year during February, I felt good enough to take part in a creativity bootcamp which boosted my spirits even more. I didn’t finish the manuscript I was working on but in addition to writing, I colored, sketched and painted, things I hadn’t done since I was a child. Truth be told, most of it looked pretty childish but it stretched my creative muscles and brought me great joy. I actually enjoyed February. Yay!
This year there is no creativity bootcamp, and over the past couple of weeks, I could feel the downward spiral coming. Add a little family drama, and it is amazing how quickly the darkness can descend, but I learned something from last year’s bootcamp. I learned the value of having something to do that engages me in a different way than I’m used to. This month, I began a 60 day spiritual journaling journey. Each day presents a new question to ponder that is designed to help you think about your life and where you would like it to go. It feels like a perfect winter activity and reminds me that while the weather looks dim and the plants may look dead, there is still so much activity going on underneath the surface just waiting for spring. I feel that way too. I’m writing more than I have in a while, but most of it will never be published because it’s personal and only for me. When the funk lifts, I know there will be a burst of activity and it will be beautiful, exactly like the spring flowers I love so much. It keeps me going and helps me to be gentle with myself on the days that life seems more difficult, and it gets me through to days like today that are brilliantly sunny even though it’s snowy, cold and windy.
For those of you that struggle this time of year, I encourage you to find your own place of joy. If you’re a physical person, exercise a bit longer. Go dancing or walk at the mall if the weather’s bad. If you’re an emotional person, watch a few feel good movies where the good guys/girls win, or if you’re a Disney lover like me, watch any of their movies and remember the first time you watched them. If you’re a spiritual person, find a new path to explore and see what new revelations come to you. Bake for someone. Send a thinking of you note to a friend. The options are endless, and occasionally take a day to do nothing if you need the rest. Taking a day of rest is still the most difficult for me. I’m a doer and mover, and it’s my nature to push through whatever is bothering me, but sometimes the best response is to rest, to allow yourself a day of downtime even if you have a million things on your to-do list, especially if that to-do list is getting longer and your list of accomplishments is getting shorter. Give yourself a “me” day and you might find that the next day you’ve found the person you’ve been looking for. Even if you don’t, you might feel better just from the break. In any case, it is my privilege to share what I write with you, and I thank you for reading. I also than you for being you and wish you a great day.
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