February is often characterized by cold, dreary weather and shorter days in the Northern Hemisphere.  It can be a challenging time for many people. The excitement of the holidays and the new year has faded, and this period can trigger feelings of sadness or what is commonly referred to as the “February Blues.”  

It’s crucial to understand that this form of seasonal depression is not just a fleeting sadness but a real and often impactful emotional state. 

So how do we end up feeling February? 

Lack of Sunlight 

For those of us in the North, reduced sunlight in winter months can disrupt our body’s internal clock, leading to feelings of depression. This lack of sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects mood, and disrupts your circadian rhythms, leading to sleep problems. 

Post-Holiday Letdown 

After the high spirits and busyness of the holiday season, February can feel particularly empty and slow, contributing to feelings of sadness or disappointment. 

Cold Weather 

If you’re in the North, cold, often gloomy weather can limit outdoor activities, leading to increased isolation and decreased physical activity, both of which are vital for mental health. 

Valentine’s Day Pressure 

For some, Valentine’s Day can amplify feelings of loneliness or unmet expectations about relationships, further contributing to the February blues. 

How We Feel February:  The Symptoms 

Here are nine signs you may be feeling February! 

  1. Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood 
  1. Loss of interest or pleasure in activities, including hobbies 
  1. Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism 
  1. Irritability 
  1. Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping 
  1. Appetite and/or weight changes 
  1. Decreased energy or fatigue 
  1. Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions 
  1. Thoughts of death or suicide 

Feeling Fab in February:  Coping Strategies 

1. Light Therapy 

Exposure to a light therapy box can compensate for the lack of natural sunlight and can be particularly effective. 

2. Stay Active: 

Engaging in physical activity, especially outdoors, can improve mood and energy levels. 

3. Maintain a Routine: 

Keeping a regular schedule can help manage feelings of depression by providing structure and predictability. 

4. Socialize: 

Connecting with friends and family, even virtually, can provide emotional support and alleviate feelings of isolation. 

5. Mindfulness and Relaxation: 

Practices like meditation, yoga, or deep-breathing exercises can reduce stress and improve overall mood. 

6. Professional Help: 

If feelings of depression are overwhelming, it is crucial to seek help from a mental health professional. 

We Can Get Through This! 

While the February Blues can be challenging, understanding and acknowledging these feelings is the first step towards managing them. By adopting coping strategies and, if necessary, seeking professional help, one can navigate through this difficult period. It’s important to remember that these feelings are temporary, and with the right approach, spring can be a time of renewed energy and optimism.