You started off the New Year with lofty goals and boundless enthusiasm, but come February you may find your inspiration lacking.
Jonathan Alpert, psychotherapist and author of Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days says the February blues are a result of the lull that occurs around this time of year after the festivities of the New Year. "From November to January 1st we have a lot to look forward to and abruptly it seems to end," he says. And if you live in the cold north, you may also find your motivation waning after months of being trapped indoors. The winter blues not only affect your mood and can hinder your social life, but can impact your productivity at work.
Try these tricks and beat the seasonal blahs:
Sure, it’s cold outside, but don’t let below-freezing temperatures cause your productivity and mood to plummet. Even a 10-minute outdoor walk can help raise your mood. Light enters the brain through the eyes and impacts serotonin and dopamine, two neurotransmitters that play a role in boosting mood. In the office, position your desk closer to a window to maximize your exposure to natural light. If you don’t have the option of repositioning your furniture, consider a light therapy box. These devices create artificial light that mimics natural light.
Alpert says the key to changing your mood is to alter your attitude about winter. "Instead of seeing it as a long, never-ending season, try to see it as an opportunity to do things that can only be done in the winter," says Albert. Take up skiing, sledding, or ice skating, and you’ll quickly see your winter mood warm up.
Trying something new is a great way to tackle the lack of motivation that can result from the seasonal blues. "When you feel like you’ve just jumped out of an airplane, you’re tackling something you don’t feel completely secure about, adrenaline kicks in," says Karin Hurt, a business consultant and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders.
That adrenaline rush can help overcome depression and get you out of your seasonal rut. Trying something new engages your brain in new ways and provides you with a sense of satisfaction. Hurt says the challenge doesn’t have to be huge. She recently encouraged a client to write a blog post on LinkedIn. "He developed a beautiful piece that not only made him feel like an expert but improved his profile in the process," says Hurt. Volunteering for a special project outside your functional area is another way to step outside of your comfort zone.
Meeting new people can not only be uplifting to your mood, but can open the doors to new professional opportunities. "Networking triggers new possibility," says Hurt. Make a point to connect with three friends or colleagues you haven’t spoken to in a while.
February is a great time to plant the seed of possibility. Take a course, clean up your LinkedIn profile, seek out a mentor, or offer to mentor someone else. Starting something new is energizing, and you never know what the result of your seed will be six months from now. Hurt offers herself as an example.
A few years ago, she was experiencing the February blues. Business wasn’t going as fast as she wanted and she was feeling mentally drained after months of being stuck indoors. She reached out to a conference—planting a career bulb—and is now doing a book signing and providing some content at the event.