Yikes! It’s the third week of February already and I’m sure some of you are feeling it. You know what I’m talking about. The blues. The sad-that-you-just-can’t-shake. Maybe it’s a fleeting feeling; maybe you’ve had it all along. Now, I’m no doctor, so if you’re experiencing depression or debilitating sadness, you may want to go to a doctor. I’m hoping to help those who are experiencing the February blues.
My situation might be a bit different from yours, but I experienced the blues every so often. Sometimes, I’ll just start to feel sad. Sometimes, Nina Simone will come on and make me feel sadder. Sometimes, it’s a regular ol’ Tuesday, and there I am, crying. I can’t always explain why my emotions are the way they are, but I can do some things to change them.
So what I do? Well, it sort of depends. There are a lot of things I like to do, a lot of things I want to do, and, of course, a bunch of things I can’t do (vacation in Tahiti, anyone?)
The first that I like to do when I’m sad is eat. I like to eat soup and warm foods that make me feel happier. But obviously, we can’t just eat away our sad. Sometimes, it’s better to get to the bottom of it. So, I’d like to present some journaling ideas to help you understand yourselves better.
To do these activities, you need a pen and some paper. That’s it. No bells and whistles. No fancy anything— just you and your thoughts. Here we go. I’m going to ask you a question or prompt and you’re going to respond to it.
I feel happiest when I _____________.
I feel the saddest when ___________.
My favorite memories are _______________.
I can’t stand when I ___________.
Most people think I am ________________.
When I think of myself, the first thing that comes to mind is _____________.
I want people to think of me as _________________.
I am thankful for _______, ________, __________, _________, and ___________.
In one week, I’d like to accomplish ____________.
In one month, I’d like to accomplish __________________.
In two months, I’d like to accomplish ________________.
In six months, I’d like to accomplish ____________.
In one year, I’d like to accomplish __________________.
I would like to save $________ in __________ months.
I would like to see ________, _________, and _______.
Okay, after doing that, how do you feel? Do you feel better? More focused? Less sad? Do you feel more anxious or upset? If so, you may want to spend more time writing about it. Now, after you’ve completed the initial exercise, you should try expanding on each idea. Why do you want people to think of you as ____ or ____? How can you break down your goals into actionable steps?
Sometimes, planning for the future is a great way to stop feeling sad. What are you going to do next month? Next year? What types of things do you want to do or see?
Plan these out. Create a bucket list! See something new! Once you have your ideas down, you can start getting out of the February funk that leaves so many of us sad and lonely. Why not do something with your time? Why not make something?
Okay, so let’s say you’ve made all plans and you’ve finished your journals, but you’re still feeling sad. What are you going to do? I think that the next best thing to do is to organize.
To organize, you’ll want to target your rooms that need it the most. I’ve talked a lot about minimalism and the art of doing one thing at a time, so you all probably know how much I love to plan.
To plan out your time, break up your space into sections that need deep cleaning; sections that need light cleaning; and sections that only need picking up from time to time. When you enter those deep clean areas, you’ll want to start by getting some few boxes. Label one “keep,” one “trash,” one “donate,” and one “maybe.” In the “keep” box, insert only those items that you know you want to keep. In the “trash” box, place items that are broken, stained, or torn. Throw out pieces of paper, old notes that you no longer need; old job stuff you don’t care about anymore. Whatever you can get rid of, you should get rid of.
Less clutter means less time spent organizing and less time spent worrying about all of your stuff. Anyway, once you’ve sorted all of your items, you can start getting down to the nitty gritty. Pick up everything off of your floor and sweep and deep clean it. Remove all blinds from your windows and wash them thoroughly. Get in between those cracks and crevices that you never really get to. Wipe off your fan blades. Remove everything from under your bed. Open up the closet. What’s in there? What do you wear and still use? What can you donate?
If you go into each room with this mindset, you’ll be able to create the space you’ve always been dreaming of. Have you been complaining that your family has too much stuff? Make it a family day! Get everyone together and give each person those same boxes (“keep,” “throw away,” etc.). See how long it takes everyone to clean their spaces. Once you are all done, you should put the “maybe” boxes out of site for one month. If you don’t need, use, or look for those items during that month, it’s probably safe to say that you don’t need them. That’s the time to take those items to the donation center.
So I guess what I’m saying is, is that the best way to beat the February blues is to get moving. Start cleaning! Start writing! Start planning things! Start making things! I found that when I sat in bed and whimpered and felt bad about myself, those feelings compounded. I didn’t ever feel better about any of it; I only felt worse. It was only when I started to actually do something that I