026 // Tips for getting through February—the longest (yet shortest) month

Health with Hashimoto’s is your free weekly podcast to discover true, simple, and sustainable tips to improve your energy and health.

February can feel like the longest, hardest month of the year. In this episode, you’ll find encouragement and ways to make it through the month healthier. Your mind, soul, and body are all connected. This month, let’s focus on increasing our joy each day. I’ve got a bunch of tips to do just that!

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Each episode of Health with Hashimoto’s is for informational and educational purposes. Please discuss any questions or concerns with your trusted healthcare professional.

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Read the Transcript:

This transcript is auto-generated by OtterAI and may have slight errors.

How are you?

How are you? How are you really doing? It’s February right now. And February is a really tough month.

So I want you to know that you are valued, you are loved.

I don’t know what’s going on for you right now. But hopefully, in this podcast episode today, you find a little bit of encouragement, hope, and strategies for making it through February.

Welcome

Welcome to the health Hashimotos podcast. It’s a podcast where exhausted women with Hashimotos (or people who think they might have Hashimotos) discover a true, simple, and sustainable path to whole health.

In addition to being a registered nurse who absolutely loves truth and research and valid ways to increase your health, I am also a homeschooling mom. When I started homeschooling over 11 years ago, I had this message in one of my Facebook groups in February. It said “this is the hardest month” and “just know that everybody feels this way February is hard.” That posts pops up every single year and I so much appreciate that wise homeschooling mom who posts it every single year because February is long.

It’s short, but feels LONG

I know February is actually the shortest month but it feels like the longest month. You know, in December we are looking forward to the holidays in January. We’re still kind of riding high on the Christmas season. And then you have the cleaning up the putting away– there are things to do. And then in February, there’s Valentine’s Day, there’s Groundhogs Day, but mostly, the days are short, although they are getting longer, they’re cold, and everybody’s kind of just sick of being together. That sounds really bad. But you’ve been cooped up, at least if you live in the northern hemisphere up you know I’m in Minnesota, it’s cold, and we’re inside all the time together. February is hard.

In preparation for this episode. I did some googling. I couldn’t find anything on PubMed about why February is hard. But I found a lot of Popular magazine articles that talked about it and they mentioned things like people are getting the bills from Christmas. And they talked about the light the cold the cooped up, they said everybody is getting sick. You’re sick of wearing your winter gear. I thought that was funny.

I guess I don’t really care about what I wear all that much and I have some super nice soft super warm sweatshirts, so I’m good with it. But you might be sick of wearing your winter outfits right now. I get it.

February can be hard

February is hard and it’s hard for a lot of reasons. So that is why I am devoting this episode to helping you get through February and get through February healthier than when you started it.

I have a bunch of ways for you to do that today. And they all center around the concept of finding joy.

Joy improves health

Did you know that increasing the joy in your life is one of the most powerful things you can do for your immune system? It is true. Other than deep sleep. The best thing that you can do for your immune function is to increase your joy.

For one thing, increasing your joy gets you out of that fight and flight response. It gets you out of that stress mode and anytime you can shift out of fight or flight into rest and digest which is the opposite. Then you are going to be functioning better as a person every part of view, body, mind, and spirit is going to be working better than when you’re in fight and flight. There is one study that was done and they actually looked at cells. And when your cells are under that stress response, they kind of like curl up on each other and they don’t allow nutrients in they don’t work as well. And when you’re living in a state of love or joy, your cells open up they uncurl and they function better. I always find that fascinating.

Soul-Mind-Body: The WHOLE matters

In our world today we want to think about people as just a body but you are not just a body. You are a whole person and you cannot separate those parts as much as we try. You cannot separate them. You are whole: body, mind spirit. And then there’s also diet and environment that are intricately entwined in that everything is related. And when you know everything is related, you can take actions in any one of those five areas body mind spirit diet environment to increase the health of the whole view.

So today let’s talk about how to increase your joy. But before I dive into the tips take a deep breath. Take a breath with your belly with your diaphragm. Mind let it out. relax as much as you can. Obviously if you’re driving, keep your eyes on the road please don’t be unsafe. But anywhere else. Try to relax. Take a deep breath let your stress go. And I’m going to share with you a whole bunch of tips for finding joy.

Great ideas for joy

I did look on Google again for this episode. And I was looking for ways to find joy and then I decided you know what I have really smart friends. I’m going to ask them. So these are all recommendations that actually work for my personal friends. I had a bunch of people respond. I did this on Facebook, because, I don’t know, I feel like people answer more on Facebook than Instagram. I probably should have put it on Instagram for those of you who follow me over there on Instagram. If you want to follow me I am @EstherY.RN And I do not accept friends on Facebook. Don’t take it personally. Facebook is reserved for people I know personally; Instagram is where I will connect with anybody. So connect with me over on Instagram I will be posting these tips on Instagram as a carousel. So you can flip to your favorite little screen of these tips and share it to your stories so that your friends can also increase their joy.

Now I took all of these different suggestions and I tried to categorize them so that you know they make more sense and that we can group them.

Find Joy: Pets

The one thing that I found was weird is pets did not make it to the list very often. I thought pets were going to be way up at the top. We have two indoor cats. We have several outdoor cats and you know, snuggling with an animal is just soothing. Especially when you’re holding a cat and they start to purr. There’s something about the frequency of the sound and the vibration, that signal to your body. Now I’m not getting all woowoo here. It’s real. The sound and the frequency of their vibration when they’re purring signals to your body to relax and to be healthier. So snuggle with a cat as long as of course the cat wants to be snuggled. We all know that if a cat does not want to be with you right now. It’s not a relaxing experiment experience for you where the cat so snuggle with a pet, a cat or a dog or whatever animal you have. It helps to relax you to decrease your stress and increase your joy. So pets is one thing that you’re not going to see on my carousel on Instagram or if you go over to the blog post associated with this episode is not going to be there because I think only one person mentioned it and it didn’t fit into any my categories.

Find Joy: Nature

Let me go through the categories. First, I’ve got major now taking a hike or spending some time in the garden getting your hands dirty in the soil. Those are things that for some people, increase their joy. Now when you’re listening to this list, obviously not every single one of them is going to increase your joy. If you hate being in the garden, or maybe you were told that you had to go pull weeds every summer as a kid and you just have bad memories. Well, maybe that’s not what is going to spark your joy. But I assure you there are going to be other things in the list that do for me. One of the things that I love the most in the whole world. It happens and instantly. I am happier. It’s watching snowfall or even better watching and smelling snowfall or rain. I prefer snow it always makes me smile. I will love snow and the fresh smell when it’s snowing or when it’s raining. I just boost my mood immediately. Other things

Find Joy: Faith

Let’s go into the faith category. A lot of my friends mentioned faith. Now obviously if you listen to this, you know that I am a spiritual person. And I have a very strong faith and a very good relationship with Jesus. So it makes sense that a lot of my friends also have that relationship and brought this to the list. A lot of them said that starting their day reading their bible or another devotional that brings them closer to Jesus increases their joy. Also prayer and worship music and then one that anybody can do regardless of your faith, expressing gratitude. I did put this in the category of faith because it’s a spiritual practice when you are expressing gratitude when you’re writing it down or when you’re talking to God or whoever. It’s a spiritual thing. It’s an emotional thing too. But expressing gratitude increases your joy. If you write a thank you note and you mail it, it’s more powerful.

Increase the power of these small things

A lot of these practices increase in power when you share them with a friend. So if you’re going on a hike, it can increase your joy. If you go on a hike with a friend usually can boost that joy even more.

And that goes for almost every single one of these. When you combine it with other people. It increases how much joy peace and happiness it can bring to you.

Find Joy: Music

Of course music is a huge part in finding joy in the day. We all know that our emotions can be heightened by playing different music and we can shift our mood by playing different music. So I’m talking about listening to music, but also people mentioned playing an instrument when you play your instrument that can increase your joy, listening to music, lots of people had playlists that they recommended. Listening to music can increase her joy during the day. Again, singing is so powerful singing does something physiologically to change your health. Crazy, right? We don’t think about the act of singing as changing what’s going on in our health, but it can. So singing is something that a lot of people mentioned to increase their joy and of course, dancing all of these things go together when you think about music, playing instruments, listening to music, singing, dancing, it’s all good.

Find Joy: Food & Drink

Of course, food also made the list. Now this could be anything from coffee or tea, dark chocolate or baking treats and sharing them with a friend again, sharing food increases the power of how much you enjoy the food and how it’s going to elevate your mood in the day.

Find Joy: Time with others

The next category is people whether this is family or friends, spending time with others can increase your joy in the day. Of course, there are people who will drag you down and I’m not talking about those. But when I asked you know how do you increase your joy? People mentioned phoning a friend talking to a friend and laughing together. laughter was brought up a lot you can do laughter individually. As I’ve told you in other podcast episodes, when you laugh with others, it increases the healing power of that laughter and just being around friends. Spending time with family can also increase your joy. And a grandma chimed in and said is spending time with her grandkids brings her the most joy in a day.

Find Joy: Creative Pursuits

I’ve got two categories left for you. One of them is creating when you are using your creative powers it can increase your joy. So whether this is participating in a craft or participating in one of the hobbies that you love to do, you can increase your joy. You can use art and creativity around your house to increase your joy. If you walk by something that somebody else has created for you, does that just lift your spirit a little bit? It does for me, or one of my friends mentioned that she has reminders to increase her joy and she showed some pictures. These are things like I am affirmations like “I am loved.” “I am valuable,” or just inspirational quotes like “enjoy today.” These are good things that you can post around your house to remind you to smile.

Find Joy: Self-care

The last category to increase your joy add joy to your day are the self care practices. Something as simple as applying lotion. It doesn’t take very much time. At all. But it’s soothing, and depending on the smell of your lotion, it can lift your spirits. Also aromatherapy. It can add joy to your day for sure. relaxing in the bathtub, it can add joy to your day. Then one of my friends made me laugh. He said that he gets joy from clocking out of work. And I can totally understand that too. I’ve had some shifts in the emergency department where I was so happy to clock out and walk out of that place. It definitely added joy to my day to leave work. Hopefully, you don’t have a job where leaving adds joy to you every single day. I firmly believe that we should all be able to find some joy in our work.

Find Joy: Vocation

I hope you have a job that you can find some joy in for me. I love helping people. It absolutely lights me up. If you book a Health with Hashimoto session and I get to work with you and help you discover your next step on your path to health. Well, you’re going to get some great answers in strategy and by helping you, it’s also going to increase my joy. I have been designed and created to help people like that. It increases my joy to work with you. I love it. I hope that you have a job where you can find some joy in that.

February – the longest (short) month

So even though February can feel like the absolute longest month and the days can feel incredibly long, even though they’re short. I hope that this episode has given you some strategies that you can refer back to you on those long days when you feel like you’re never going to get to April, because let’s not even talk about March and April will be able to open the window it will be able to smell the fresh air. Maybe you’ll have flowers coming up. It’s great. You just have to make it in time.

You are valuable!

Know that no matter how the day feels, no matter what you do during the day no matter how you feel about yourself how you feel about your health. Know that you are valuable. You are a valuable person because you exist. It doesn’t depend on anything that you do or that you don’t do. Your value does not depend on your health. Your value is yours. You are valuable because you are you. I hope you know that you matter.

Thank you!

And I look forward to chatting with you on the next episode of health with Hashimotos Hey, if you have an idea for an episode, let me know because I would love to serve you and answer your questions or address things that you are wondering about. And also thank you so much for sharing this podcast. I’ve had several people reach out and say hey, I shared your podcast with this friend. That means so much to me. Thank you I love knowing that I am serving you and helping you with your health. By doing this podcast, it means so much to me. Thank you for sharing it.

Alright, I will talk to you next week on the health of Hashimoto’s podcast.

This podcast is for informational and educational purposes only. Please be sure to discuss any concerns and plans with your trusted healthcare professional.

Images used in this post include those from Unsplash: Nick Fewings and Jacqueline Munguía