Hm, the headline may strike some of you as an oxymoron. CAN a February be fabulous?
Yet mine was, without a doubt. This was my best February ever. I want to share the wealth as we slip into March, knowing how some people suffer at this time of year. It may be unreasonable to put this out there when i am no professional, but i have had years when i felt totally buried under something like seasonal affect disorder. I felt SAD (literally): before. But I am feeling so much better this year, I think i have found a prescription for the February blahs.
In a month when the temperatures are cold, the days are dark & short, and without the compensations we experience in December (holidays such as Christmas) and January (New Years, and the comparative novelty of the weather… what’s picturesque in January becomes tiresome in February), everything seems a bit more difficult in February.
And it doesn’t help that Christianity gives us the season of Lent. This is a time of reflection, when the extroverted emotions of celebration are proscribed in favour of something quieter and more internalized. “Hallelujah” is something we’re not supposed to say until Easter, although I suspect a few people are saying just that: because February is over.
One of the hardest things to do at this time of year is to be active. You probably think i mean physical activity; sure, the physical is part of it. But I mean in the more fundamental sense: of not being passive.
When it’s cold outside, cycling, running, even walking get so much more difficult that some people give up until the weather improves. The shorter day leaves us with fewer opportunities to exercise. So that sort of activity becomes tougher.
But there are other sorts of activity. When you choose to do something—seeing a film, doing a big chore, reading a book—your mind is active. When we allow ourselves to be circumscribed by work & weather, going through the motions without making personal choices, we cease to be active. We become passive. Passion is not necessarily a bad thing, but if the only thing you’re feeling is irritation, fatigue, the absence of sun and the things you may love the most? Letting that funk own you is actually a choice. The choice not to choose, not to be active, is still a choice.
Being overwhelmed by our feelings is not something we may really be aware of. I know sometimes it happens to me. And it’s not as though you can run a marathon or build a house to make it go away. But one can open one’s Beethoven sonatas book, and start playing through them. One can open one’s Complete Shakespeare and start reading great literature. If you’re so inclined, of course there are brilliant and generous things one can do to pick up one’s spirits such as volunteering. But I am not proposing that you suddenly morph into a saint, especially if you feel anti-social.
I am simply bearing witness, sharing my experience. I am no psycho-therapist, but do think I may have hit upon something. Sitting in front of the television is passive, no matter how good you may think the programming is. You don’t engage enough of your brain to escape being passive. Last night I did watch a hockey game, but for most of the game I was on the treadmill or lifting weights.
If I were to give my prescription it would be “be active”, or “choose”. Sit and use your brain, and you will still be active, if that’s something you might enjoy. Now that it’s March I suppose I can catch up on the sleep i lost, doing so much this past month. I am not saying i did a brilliant job at what i did. That’s the funny part. I suspect that harsh self-judgment defeats the positive effects. We have to allow ourselves to be nourished by being busy. I don’t beat myself up when i make mistakes at the keyboard. I sing out of tune, and try to do it right next time. Eventually i will say Hallelujah, but for now, i am simply keeping busy. It’s been the best February I’ve ever had.
For some people maybe taking a vacation is a better idea. And of course some people don’t want to live in a place like Canada, which may also be a solution. Me? i am not about to leave my home, particularly because i like it here. I don’t claim that this works for everybody. i don’t even know if it will work for me again.
But I will see if it works next year. (tune in 11 months from now…)