April may be the cruelest month, but February is for sure the dreariest. The days are still short, the weather is still cold, and any positive holiday experiences have long faded from memory. The one small February blessing is that it typically only lasts 28 days. In 2020, however, even that tiniest of comforts is deprived of us, for it is a leap year.
If you want to get through February feeling fabulous, you need to have a plan of action. Here are 10 little things that can help you survive and even thrive in this gray month.
1. Eat a Healthy Breakfast
The importance of eating a healthful meal first thing in the morning is something we all know intuitively, but it is typically one of the first things to go when the hustle and bustle of modern existence forces us to make sacrifices. This February, don’t forget breakfast! Start your day off with a bowl of oatmeal with fruit. This will give you the energy needed to boost your productivity when you get into the office, especially since you won’t waste valuable time daydreaming about lunch.
2. Drink Lots of Water
Scientists and health experts are still debating the validity of the timeworn 8 by 8 rule (eight glasses of 8-ounce water per day), but that does not mean you can skimp on your daily intake. Water is the basis of all human life, and those who drink copious amounts of water can feel that fact in their bones. Drinking water continuously throughout the day will improve your brain function and your energy levels, and it will ward off that afternoon fog that begins to trickle in when the sun shows first signs of setting.
3. Keep Life Tidy
Decluttering guru Marie Kondo famously tells us to throw out everything in our lives that does not “spark joy.” While that may be overkill, there is more than a kernel of wisdom in her words. It is so easy to surround ourselves with items we don’t need or don’t use, and, especially in a month we are largely forced to spend indoors, this can lead to feelings of powerlessness and claustrophobia. Take control of your belongings: Make your bed; don’t let laundry or dishes pile up; put objects strewn across the floor in their rightful place. Although you can’t affect the weather, you can affect your personal environment, and this is the best place to start.
4. Go to Bed Early
This one can be counterintuitive. We are often told that sleeping too much is a sign of depression, a condition for which we must be extra vigilant during the prime time for SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). But staying up late can also be symptomatic of depression, since it indicates listlessness and lack of direction. Make a plan for what time you want to go to bed each night and stick to it. Doing so will help liberate you from the tyranny of screens, which many of us watch mindlessly for hours on end during time that would be better spent counting sheep.
5. Spend Time with Loved Ones
During February, many people become de facto shut-ins. The holidays are over, and the season of weddings, cookouts, and pool parties mocks us from months in the future. As such, aside from work, there is little reason for us to get out of the house. As Aristotle said, humans are social creatures, and we need to interact with our fellow man in order to be completely happy. Go out of your way to schedule get-togethers with your friends and family these next few weeks. You will end up enlightening not just your own days but theirs as well.
6. Exercising for 10 Minutes Each Day
Going to the gym in February can be daunting. When you get home from work, it is already dark outside, and what you really want to do is kick back and stay out of the cold. But exercising is a critical part of human health and well-being. Even if you can’t find the time to work out for an hour on a daily basis, make it your mission to get in just 10 minutes. This can be before work, after work, or even at lunchtime. Adding this to your routine will have huge positive implications on your wellness, and in short while you will notice yourself even looking forward to that 10-minute retreat from your day.
7. Focus on One Big Thing
The days may be short and the weeks may be few, but for some reason February can seem to go on forever. This is partly because, unlike in other months, most of us don’t really have anything to concentrate on or look forward to. You have the power to change this: Come up with a big project or goal that you want to accomplish these next four weeks. It can be in your professional life or your home life; it can be continuing education or merely a hobby. Whatever it is, make it a priority to finish it by the end of the month. Having something of significant magnitude to focus on will give your days purpose and direction that will improve your mental health during this trying month.
8. Be Positive
Remember the old Johnny Mercer tune. “Accentuate the Positive.” Only if you do that, eliminate the negative, and stay away from “Mr. In-Between,” can you achieve the state of mind necessary to achieve a happy and fulfilling life. There is so much negative energy in the world we live in, much of it coming from the news and social media. Step away from these dark forces, and focus on the things in life you know make you happy. Identify your favorite aspects of your job, and think about them as soon as you wake up in the morning. This will make the day more tolerable and perhaps even enjoyable. It will certainly help you abide until you come upon the next of life’s great journeys.
9. Watch a Classic Movie
Naturally, it is tempting to keep up with the latest new shows on Netflix or HBO. But did you know that it is actually better for your brain to watch older movies? Modern programming is designed to give you just enough of a dopamine hit to make you crave the next episode. Plus, the sheer volume of television shows to watch can make you feel like you are running on a hamster wheel, making no progress in catching up to the swiftly moving zeitgeist. Classic movies, on the other hand, were created in a time in which culture placed more emphasis on thoughtful rumination. Taking in an old picture will lead you to confront questions about the human condition you hadn’t considered in ages, if ever. Additionally, seeing old-timers in recognizable situations will make you feel connected with the entirety of human history, which will lead to less anxiety and stress about your modern-day problems.
10. Enjoy a Massage with NAIPO Massagers
In addition to the negative mental effects, February also brings winter’s physical maladies. Dropping temperatures and humidity levels will give you dry skin, and your body will tense up in response to the weather, constricting blood flow. Regular use of a NAIPO massager can combat these problems: After all, massages enhance blood circulation. A more rapid blood flow reduces aches and pains, and relaxing the muscles will limit the release of the stress hormone cortisol, which wrinkles the skin. If you take advantage of one of NAIPO’s massagers with heat technology, you will add an extra layer of defense against the dry and frigid air. Make a NAIPO massager your best friend, and you are bound to have a fabulous February.