Every year, the third Monday of January (today!) is dubbed “Blue Monday”.
The theory goes that this is the time of year when we’re all cold, broke and riddled with guilt that our new year’s resolutions to get fit, drink less alcohol, and be a better human being haven’t quite cut the mustard.
Of course, this year, Blue Monday could be bluer than usual with the current situation to contend with on top of the usual January difficulties.
To combat the Monday blues, Sean Betts of global data firm Annalect shares his tips to help keep a positive mindset on Blue Monday and beyond.
1. Lower your expectations of yourself
All too often we are our own worst critics; setting goals and resolutions for a new year is a great motivator, but don’t let those goals turn into beating sticks if you fall short. Be supportive of yourself.
2. Keep it simple
January can be a stressful month so look at ways to keep your life simple. Don’t say yes to things you don’t want to do and practise honesty with your family and friends so they know how you are truly feeling. You will feel more connected and closer to them through this honesty.
3. Do something for someone else
There’s a growing body of research that links altruistic behaviour with improved health and a greater sense of wellbeing. Offer someone a genuine compliment, and/or make a contribution to a charity.
When you smile, you release a cascade of feel-good chemicals in your brain. Your body relaxes, and blood pressure may be lowered. Smiling is contagious, too, so if you smile at others you’ll help them feel better as well.
5. Be grateful
It can be so easy to forget the things in our lives we have to be grateful for, especially in a month like January. Actively thinking of things we are grateful for can transform a glass empty kind of moment into a glass full kind of moment. It can help add a little bit of perspective when we need it most.
Making plans to do things you enjoy or just seeing friends is a great way of boosting your overall wellbeing and happiness.
7. Get outdoors
Natural light helps stabilise serotonin and triggers endorphin, both mood-boosting hormones. See if you can get outside for at least ten minutes today. You could enhance the positive effects by combining your time outside with the second suggestion.
8. Practise mindfullness or meditation
The only wrong way to meditate is to not do it at all, so why not give it a go? Taking the time to sit still with yourself – however busy or calm your head chatter is – is proven to have a multitude of benefits on your mental health. Just like your body needs attention and exercise, so does your mind.
9. Get on with it
What we need to do and what we want to do can feel very conflicting. Nine times out of ten, the best action to take can feel the most counter-intuitive. Get up, get dressed and fake it ’til you make it! This can work in helping lift our mood. Where the body leads the mind follows. So get going and gently put one foot in front of the other.
10. Reach out
It might be a shiny new year but that thing that has been playing on your mind, or keeping you up at night won’t have magically disappeared because it’s now 2021. If you feel like you need it, be brave and get some support. Don’t suffer in silence, get some help!