Six Ways to Escape the February Funk
Did you just hear that? I just sighed out loud thinking about how to tackle that overall feeling of extreme blah that seems to descend this time of year. If you find yourself struggling to figure out how to get through the gray season, take comfort in the fact that you're not alone- and try some of these tips:
Bruce R. Mendelsohn, a fitness and spinning instructor at the YMCA of Westborough, MA prefers to refer to that feeling of general malaise as the "February fade" and encourages his clients to overcome the blahs by using visualization and reasonable goal-setting, as follows:
- Set monthly goals
Mendelsohn encourages both men and women to "check back in on how they’re progressing towards their fitness goals and to set reasonable and achievable monthly goals based on what they’ve accomplished thus far." Or as he puts it "I focus on the positives–how many days they’ve exercised in January, how good they feel, and how to approach fitness one day, one workout at a time."
- Pay attention to how you feel about your body
Instead of pinching that extra inch around your waist, pay closer attention to the ways you're actively pursuing fitness and better health. Mendelsohn says he encourages "the use of data tracking devices as complimentary to how my clients “feel” about their bodies and their fitness: How they’re sleeping, their moods, the quality of their personal and professional relationships, etc." It's entirely possible that you're doing better than you think!
- Try an office workout
Ashley Koff, a registered dietitian/nutritionist and author says "Natural energy comes from moving our muscles more often, so the more we can move, even at home or at the office, the better." Koff finds that "playing music is helpful to stimulate the brain and get the endorphins going, especially when you're dealing with the winter blues. Research has shown that listening to music can help us override feelings of fatigue. To get the blood flowing, pump up the volume on your favorite tunes. Next, stand up in front of your chair. Squat so your back side touches the seat – but no sitting! Stand back up and squat again. Repeat 10 times, then sit down. Now twist from your mid-section, not your shoulders, to the left and then to the right. Repeat 5 times on each side. With a little help from these natural stimulators – water, music, energy supplements, and body movement – we can all combat that February funk."
- Stage your own indoor concert
Let's face it, it's difficult to run in ice and slush, but there are definitely ways to keep moving even when you're feeling trapped indoors. There's a reason that nearly every feel-good movie includes images of people dancing in their bedrooms before facing the world anew. What's the best concert you've ever been to? Add a few videos of your favorite performer performing live and allow yourself to cycle, dance or stair step your little heart out while remembering just how much fun you had. And if you're feeling really inspired- pay yourself $5.00 per indoor workout and set it aside in a concert fund.
- Just add water
While we tend to remember to hydrate during the hot summer months, many of us forget that we need to keep drinking during colder months as well. Koff advises, "Start off your day by having a glass of water first thing in the morning. Ditch the coffee, as that can often cause a caffeine crash." Koff recently partnered with Avon on their new natural supplements collection, she's a fan of Espira's Natural Energy, which contains green tea and coffee fruit extracts that naturally boost mental and physical energy. "Because it's easy to slide into a slump during the day."
- Add some light
Having smart lightbulbs in my home tends to cheer me up on even the greyest days. I use the app to set them so that I'm always greeted by warm light when I walk in the door. Sometimes I'll pick hot pink or neon green so that I walk into a room that looks like it's in full '80s cotton candy mode. Sure it's goofy, but it adds an instant smile to my day. I also use a SAD lights first thing in the morning for up to an hour and use a progressive light alarm clock instead of a traditional buzzing or radio version. Small changes that literally add light to the gloomiest days.