by Sammy Bonasso, ’20
Most students do not eagerly anticipate each new school day, even if they do not dread it. Therefore, several outside factors motivate them to continue through their days despite pessimistic attitudes, including looming holidays, non-academic events and breaks.
In the eyes of many students and teachers, one month appears particularly sluggish: February. The weather keeps them indoors, the third quarter’s grind keeps them busy and the lack of foreseeable breaks suppresses their hopes. Regardless, everyone perceives and manages the month differently.
Students in a Schoology survey generally disliked Winter and its characteristics. Half of students labeled either January or February as their least favorite month, 61 percent felt the month drags on and 55 percent agreed it is “freezing and dreary.”
Minorities of at most 15 percent of students said February progresses quickly, provides an enjoyable outdoor environment or is their favorite month. Additionally, most students shared opinions on President’s Day, with around three-quarters deeming it a welcome break.
Math teacher Jeff Silliman agreed with the former students, and he declared February his least favorite month. Furthermore, he found people’s environments greatly impact their February experiences.
“I lived in Colorado for two years, and I got used to seeing the sun almost everyday, even through the winter,” Silliman said. “When I moved back to Ohio, I had a hard time adjusting to the nearly constant dreariness of the winter, February in particular.”
Silliman stated the absence of major breaks does not shape his opinions as much as Ohio’s cold weather, the largest factor for him. Often limiting his exercise and outdoor activity, it significantly worsens his mood, as he believes time outdoors to be part and parcel with lifted spirits. Silliman mentioned how some even suffer from seasonal affective disorder.
Counselor and basketball coach Matt Biedenbach viewed February much differently than Silliman and most students—the month rarely progresses slowly for him as his team’s season concludes and he helps students schedule classes. Nevertheless, although he has not encountered many opinions similar to Silliman’s, he recognized the Winter’s potential somberness.
“There is some research out there that suggests winter [and not necessarily February] is the toughest season for people in general emotionally. Shorter days means less sunlight, colder weather, being stuck inside more, possibly less social interaction, [and so on]. This can contribute to depressive thoughts and feelings.”
Although Silliman works students just as hard in February as other months, he offered advice on how to overcome its sluggishness. He recommended spending as much time outdoors as the weather allows and exercising indoors if necessary, which he said can manage stress.
Biedenbach suggested an approach broader than simple fresh air. As with most personal problems, students should first recognize their symptoms, which include feeling depressed, less energetic or lonely.
“Once a student recognizes these traits in themselves or someone else, they should use their own coping strategies [such as resilience or perseverance] to try to overcome… [or] reach out to a trusted adult [who] can help them navigate and understand these feelings,” Biedenbach said.
Silliman recognizes February’s ultimate irony, at least for Ohioans: despite being the shortest month, many believe it endless. However, remedies exist for those who find it a slog, and, as proven by the variety of opinions on the month, a simple positive attitude may sufficiently hurry its pace.
“I think my time in Colorado made me realize that it doesn’t always have to be grey in February,” Silliman said. “Even though I hate the cold, sunny days with snow on the ground are the most beautiful of all. Get out there and make the most of the few opportunities Mother Nature gives you.”