Congratulations, you just survived the longest month of the year. OK, it’s not actually longer than the other six months that also happen to have 31 days, but somehow it always feels like the dark and frigid days of January might never end. Coming off the high of December with all of its parties and celebrations, January feels like nothing but work. And interestingly enough, there’s a psychological reason why the month seems to drag on endlessly. It’s called the Dopamine Clock Hypothesis.
According to the National Institute for Health, “increased dopamine release speeds up an animal’s subjective sense of time—its internal clock.” Or, to put it in layman’s terms, time flies when you’re having fun. And conversely, time slows down when you’re bored. (Need proof—have you ever watched the clock when you’re sitting at the DMV?) Many of us, in an effort to recover from the holidays, intentionally slow down our social activity (fun) in January. We go into hibernation mode, we sleep more, we go out less, and we may even jump on the Dry January bandwagon. Not to say living in our pajamas and bingeing Netflix isn’t fun, but it does tend to decrease our dopamine levels and slow down our internal clocks.
There’s nothing wrong with a dry and cozy January, but now that we understand the dopamine clock hypothesis, what can we do to make sure February isn’t a Groundhog Day repeat?
How about Galentine’s Day with your girlfriends? Or a team event to celebrate one of the many national holidays in February? Make it a point to crawl out of your self-imposed cave and schedule some FUN and you’ll do yourself and your colleagues a favor. Here are some idea starters….
Here are some idea starters….
Feb. 9 – National Pizza Day
Feb. 11 – National Get Out Your Guitar Day
Feb. 13 – Galentine’s Day
Feb. 14 – Valentine’s Day
Feb. 17 – President’s Day
Feb. 20 – National Love Your Pet Day
Feb. 24 – National Tortilla Chip Day
We started January with only 9 hours and 11 minutes of daylight and on February 1 we’re up to a whopping 10 hours between sunrise and sunset! Every day we’re gaining two and a half minutes of sunshine and by the end of the month, we’ll be up to 11 hours and 14 minutes of glorious daylight. Get out there, bundle up and call your customers while you’re on a walk. Better yet, invite your customers to take a walk with you! Can’t get away? Then open your windows and let the fresh air in. Scientists say that opening your windows for as little as five minutes a day can improve the air quality in your home or office, make you feel more alert, reduce toxins and help prevent illness.
February is a great time to refocus on your personal and work goals. Research shows that 43 percent of people have given up on their New Year’s resolutions by the end of January. Commit to being in the 57 percent who are still going strong! Whether it’s a fitness goal, a sales target or a trip you’ve resolved to take in 2024, double down in February!
Buy something new to wear to the gym to keep yourself motivated, reward your team for the incremental progress they’ve made by taking them out to lunch, build out that vacation spreadsheet (you know you have one) by adding restaurants you want to visit, and sites you don’t want to miss. Maybe even change the screensaver on your phone to a picture of that pristine beach you plan to enjoy come June. “Imagining good things ahead of us makes us feel better in the current moment,” says psychologist Simon A. Rego. “It can increase motivation, optimism, patience and decrease irritability.”
Friends, Fresh Air and Focus—tried and true ways to rev up the dopamine clock and power through winter. Bring it on February—we’ll see you on the other side of Leap Day!