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Get Your Head Right

My good friend Rich Reece, a fourth-generation Oregonian and longtime Portlander, has a strict rule for the month of February: “I try to not do anything that could possibly be negative,” he says, aiming to limit both major and minor downers to the other months. “I would never break up with somebody then; I wouldn’t quit a job unless it was for a much better job; I try to make a point of not calling someone on the phone and yelling at them.”

Reared on the fog-wrapped imagery of Ken Kesey novels, Reece, 38, was still a teenager when he started to notice something about Oregonians during the shortest month: “People would be snapping at each other, making horrible decisions, cutting off contact. I thought, well, we’re probably just depressed, and a lot of folks probably aren’t even aware of it.” While true seasonal affective disorder has more to do with the shortness of daylight, at its lowest in December, Reece (who notes that he’s an AAA customer-service rep, with zero medical training) chalks up the February funk to “the cumulative effect of this extended period of shitty days.” 

To get through the month, Reece recommends planning a few breaks in routine and managing expectations for yourself and others. That jerk who just cut you off or was short with you on the phone? He’s dealing with the same smothering drear you are—he just doesn’t know about the Reece Rule.—Margaret Seiler

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