Beating the Winter Blues

February 19th, 2015


February is the worst.


Out of the 12 months of the calendar year, February has the least to offer. The shortest month of the year only brings snow and cold, and something more sinister – the winter blues.


Nearly everyone in Northeast Ohio experiences the symptoms of this condition, also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), at some point or another during February. The effects and severity vary, but it’s a common condition.


At first glance, the winter blues appear to be an unbeatable foe. Besides begging Mother Nature for mercy, there’s not much you can do to change the weather.


However, many methods exist to beat the winter blues – besides hibernation, which sounds great right about now.


I’ve always struggled a bit with the winter blues in February. I can handle the snow, but I despise the cold, especially when the thermometer hits sub-zero.


A lack of sporting events to look forward to after the Super Bowl doesn’t help for a sports guy like me. The NBA All-Star Game offers little in the way of excitement.


The only three major sports with games in February (besides the NFL’s Super Bowl) are the NBA, NHL and NCAA basketball. I will admit – these sports offer some entertainment. I love my Washington Capitals and Ohio State Buckeyes, and follow the Cleveland Cavaliers closely. However, the postseasons for these three sports don’t start until the spring, and by then, baseball has begun.


Some sports fans might point to the NFL Scouting Combine as a distraction. The event never appealed to me. Why would I spend my free time watching a bunch of football players run in straight lines or lift tires? The Corbo Fitness Room offers a similar form of entertainment, except live and up-close.


With “watching sports” largely eliminated from the list of cures for the winter blues, what else can you do to brighten your mood?


As simple as it sounds, providing a little bit of happiness to another person almost always does the trick.


The old adage is true: One of the best ways to ensure your own personal happiness is to brighten the lives of others. Think back to the last time you performed a good deed. How did you feel afterwards? Your mood probably improved, if only slightly.


Perform a daily, random act of kindness and see how your attitude improves. In some ways, these small acts have a larger impact on your legacy than a single act might.


Consider the words of Benjamin Franklin: “A man’s story is not told solely by a list of his grand accomplishments, but rather by his smaller, daily goods.” Ask yourself this question, posed by Franklin: “What good shall I do today?”


Another old saying, “laughter is the best medicine,” also rings true in this instance. Enjoying the small moments life offers every day can vastly improve your outlook.


Take advantage of every opportunity you can to have fun. Eat lunch with an old friend  and reminisce about your misdeeds from high school. Have a Netflix comedy night with your roommates. Watch those cat videos your friends post on Facebook (my all-time favorite cat video is “Banecat”).


Don’t completely shirk your responsibilities, but take time out of your busy day to have fun.


Exercise is another great way to improve your mood.


Running on a treadmill or lifting weights can do the trick. But, combining work with play is the best way. Start a game of pickup basketball with your friends. Challenge a work colleague to a game of racquetball.


If you’re feeling blue about this dreary Northeast Ohio winter, try these cures above. They can’t make the white and gray go away, but they might just bring a little brightness into your life.