Winter blues. The February Funk. It’s all real. The holidays are over, maybe you’re chugging through a new years resolution (or abandoned one…), are over the weather, or are just over it. Whatever the reason there is weird energy in your life and it is bleeding into your work.
The doldrums of winter and the mood changes they bring isn’t something to scoff at. These feelings can get worse when the energy is bred around a company. And they can get even worse when you are alone and you’re in your home office and own head without human contact for hours, sometimes days on end.
Getting through these feelings can be tricky in general but how do you navigate “I’m so over this” attitudes that can get dialed up in Q1 when you’re remote??
Here are 5 things you can do when you’re in the funk and spring/summer feels just oh so far away:
1. Take stock of your mood.
First things first, do a quick self-assessment of your mood. Are you annoyed about a project being paused? Did your end of year review not go as well as you hoped? Was your Valentine’s Day lacking? Are you simply over the cold weather? Or are there some deeper issues at play here? There’s no right or wrong answer but understanding the crux of where your mood (and sometimes your ‘tude) is coming from is important.
2. Take action: find ways to be productive.
In a funk productivity can be one of the first things to dwindle. Finding small tasks to check off your to-do list can re-set your mind and remind you that you can be productive. The bigger the funk you’re in (as assessed by #1) the smaller you may want to start. Maybe it’s sending the emails that have been stuck in draft limbo for days or starting your Wednesday morning with a good sweep of the kitchen floor. We get a sense of accomplishment completing even the smallest of tasks and momentum can build from here.
*Note: If you think you’re battling depression, seasonal or otherwise, this action may be to contact a professional.
3. Take PTO.
I have a hard and fast rule with myself that I take PTO and make extra time for myself in Q1 every year. This helps me (a) have something to look forward to during the funkiest of days and (b) gives me time away, be it physical or mental.
It’s easy to save up your PTO for the warmer months and all those obligations you have but I say no! Your PTO is yours so ditch any feelings of needing to store it for all those summer weddings or the family vacation you’re expected to go on. A few days in March or January can literally change your outlook on the whole year.
One the reasons for doldrums and monotony when you work remotely is because you often can’t escape. Ironically enough one of my tricks to get around this is to make more of a point to connect. What do I mean? Reach out to a coworker and ask to just catch up. I’ve gotten into the habit of having “coffee” with a coworker I’m close with every few weeks. We talk about our teams and projects but we also simply catch up, the way we would if we were at actual coffee one random February morning in the same office.
5. Own it.
When in doubt own it. Tell people–friends, family, a coworker, someone you happen to make idle chatter with at Starbucks–that you’re in a funk. Saying something out loud can do more good than we realize and can offer some sense of relief.
What do you do when you have the winter blues? Share in the comments below.