Depending on where you in the the world, February can be a difficult month. Although the days are getting longer, they are still pretty cold, pretty dark, and generally difficult to navigate. Whether it’s finally having the space to deal with the holidays or Season Effective Disorder, this time of the year can be really a challenge mentally for a lot of people.
The rhythm of the academic year also can make February a slog. I wrote about how the Winter (I refuse to call it Spring) semester has a much different energy than the Fall semester, for both faculty and students, while Erin Wunker calls out February specifically (Canadian winters are hard). We’ve written here about on ProfHacker quite a bit about wellness and productivity, sometimes we just need to focus on survival.
Increasingly, institutions are growing more concerned about the mental well-being of their faculty, staff, and students. Katie Rose Guest Pryal wrote in Chronicle Vitae about a new free resource, Promoting Supportive Academic Environments for Faculty With Mental Illnesses (which everyone should send to administrators at your institution). Eric Stoller recently wrote about a Digital Toolkit for Staff to Help Support Students’ Mental Health developed in the U.K. that provides tools and resources to help our students.
But of course, for most of us (well, most of you), mid-winter blahs aren’t a mental health problem, but instead a part of the academic seasonal cycle. These resources, however, can help us identify and support those who might be suffering from more than just a bad case of the Februaries. If we can find a way to support each other more effectively and empathetically, we’ll all be better for it, as will our institutions.
Having said all that and leading from the title, I’m sure you’re asking: but, Lee, what should I do to survive February? I don’t have any answers for individuals beyond what a cursory google search will reveal or what has already been said here on ProfHacker about Wellness and Productivity. But, maybe if we start talking about mental health issues on campus, as well as sharing the resources linked above, we can create environments where the mid-winter blahs are mitigated by the systems we work in and the people we work with.
February, at least for a little while longer we hope, in the Northern Hemisphere, will continue to be cold and dark and the mid-point of the Winter semester. We can’t change that. Maybe we can get through it a little better by working to change our institutions instead.
How do you get through the tougher Winter months? Please share in the comments.
via Tumblr Surviving February
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