Beware the February Funk!
It can’t be a mistake that February was allotted less days than the other months (or that it’s an F-word for that matter).
I can picture Father Time and Mother Nature sitting at a table in a quaint restaurant on date night having this discussion:
“Whatever will we do with February? He’s so volatile and makes everyone feel bad and he shows no remorse or willingness to let up.”
“He must be disciplined!”
“Let’s cut his days and make an example of him to the other months.”
Just then, their well intentioned waiter – named Hal L. Mark – sidles up to their table donning a heart-patterned necktie and says, “I couldn’t help but overhear… I think I know just the thing for poor February…”
Thanks, Hal, Valentine’s Day is a lovely gesture but is just not enough to shake the funk. Here’s what might…
How it started
There’s a reason New Year’s Resolutions don’t work: February.
We come off the holiday madness desperate for renewal; a chance to turn over a new leaf in the new year. We hit the gym and eat salad and make promises that THIS will be our year. Then, we are slowly defeated by the cold, dark, immobilizing winter.
By the fifth of February, I’d fallen victim to the February Funk. I felt defeated, flat and frustrated.
While feeling that way is awful, I’m grateful for the awareness that February has a tendency to do this to folks and that this too shall pass.
By the way, that awareness doesn’t make any of it go away…
How it’s going
The most menial of tasks are too much right now.
I carried a basket of dirty clothes to the laundry room, set it down, looked at it and walked out of the room. Putting them in the washer, adding the detergent and pushing start (a process which takes less than 60 seconds) felt like just too much.
I have a meeting coming up and was supposed to send a reminder to the committee. That felt hard and so I avoided it.
I wrote the outline for this post five days ago and five days in a row sat down to write it. It was more than I could muster so I scrolled social media instead – all five days. (Obviously, it eventually got written.)
All this to say, the funk might currently be winning the battles but I’m determined to win the fight!
5 Ways to Fight the February Funk
If you Google “February Funk” two things will happen. 1) You’ll be surprised to realize that it is indeed a thing and 2) You’ll see a pattern of how to get through it. Taking those things to heart, we’ve come up with a list that puts a Grace in the Race spin on it.
1. Get outside for natural light and movement.
It’s been such a blessing that we’ve had so much sun this winter! Sunshine is a natural weapon against the winter blues and the February Funk. Get out in it any chance you get and let the sun shine on your face! Even if it’s only for 10 minutes it can have a positive impact on your mood and energy.
We have a treadmill at our house so my default for long walks in the winter months has always been to head to the basement. This year though, I’ve been bundling up and heading out.
Even though I’m walking shorter distances at a slower rate than normal because of the snow and ice, it’s made a noticeable impact in countering the pull of hibernation.
Additionally, the fresh air and the movement provide a magical combination to help spark creativity and motivation. (The reason I got this piece written!)
DO THIS: Bundle up. Forge out into the day. Walk 5 minutes in one direction. Turn around and walk home. Be astonished that it made such a remarkable difference in your mood!
2. Drink water.
It’s common for our water intake to decrease in the winter. Not getting enough water can be dangerous or at minimum have an effect on your mood, energy, concentration, skin, digestive system and more.
We typically associate dehydration with sweating and over exertion on a hot summer day. In winter, however, there are silent dehydrators like: running our indoor heat all day and night to counter the freezing cold outside and sweating due to being bundled up when we do go outdoors. This type of sweating leaves us uncomfortable and irritable instead of triggering a response to refuel with a cool glass of water.
DO THIS: Either before bed or first thing in the morning, fill a water bottle. Each morning, drink 16 ounces before you do anything else. Refill the bottle and keep it at arms reach throughout the day. Aim to consume the contents before lunch. Refill it one last time and finish it before dinner. If you can’t bring yourself to drink cold water in the winter, sip on hot water (I like mine with a squeeze of lemon). Coffee and tea count too!
3. Seek out joy.
Force yourself out of the funk from time to time by doing something that makes you smile. Create something, start planning a spring or summer getaway, look through photo albums and reminisce, move your furniture or decor around to give your spaces a fresh look.
I recently moved my desk up against a window to maximize the view of the outdoors since I’m not getting out as much. It made a huge difference! It would be way too hot in this location with the summer sun blazing in but as I look out at the February sun brightly reflecting off my snow-covered yard and into my home, it warms my heart.
DO THIS: Pick something that sparks joy – a Marie Kondo term… perhaps a declutter project would do the trick? Make sure it’s something that has a beginning and an end so you can feel a sense of accomplishment when it’s complete. Work on it at your leisure assuring that pressure and guilt are in no way part of the equation!
4. Stick to a schedule.
This one comes with a caveat… Consider scaling your calendar way back. THEN, stick to it. This might require playing your NO card. Do it. There’s never been a better time.
Last week I declined to attend six zoom calls. Yes, six. I needed a break and so I took it – guilt free!
If you’re in a funk, chances are you feel like you’re just cycling through failures because you keep missing the mark.
You’re unmotivated, finding it difficult to concentrate and approaching everything with a serious lack of energy.
DO THIS: Use that knowledge to identify a new, temporary schedule. Think about your bedtime, wake-up time and your daily intentions. Make them basic and achievable and put them on repeat. If you’re in the funk, small wins will keep you moving forward even if it feels like it’s at a snail’s pace – that’s grace! Oh, and play that NO card early and often!
5. Don’t (fight it, that is).
February is like quicksand. The more you fight it, the more it sucks you in. Let it. Give yourself grace by adjusting your expectations of yourself; not just with regard to your calendar as noted above but with your whole self.
Next month we’ll be moving from Grace in Wellness to Grace in Growth and we’ll all be ready to sharpen our tools then, but for now, reframe your outlook.
DO THIS: Give yourself permission to work out less and snuggle more. Indulge in hot cocoa with extra marshmallows. Enjoy comfort foods that might go against your new year’s resolution. Immerse yourself in a good book or pick up a TV series that envelops you.
Invite these things not as a lifestyle change but as a temporary reprieve (that’s grace ). Look to them to refuel you and let go of any guilt you might associate with them.
Perhaps February is simply misunderstood.
February does not show up every year with the intent to bring you down. It’s just trying to get your attention to remind you to slow down, reset and look forward with hope. It’s also an opportunity to check in with your mental wellness and adjust accordingly; remembering to give yourself grace!
What will you do to fight the February funk? If you’ve mastered it, help a mother out! We’d love to hear from you!
Finally, one last thought. If none of this resonates with you because February does not come for you in the form of the funk, count your blessings. Chances are, someone close to you is experiencing it. Check on her! Invite her to go for a brisk walk and show up with a hot cup of coffee or tea for her. She’ll get tremendous benefit from this simple gesture and tick most of the boxes above!
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