Blue Monday, as it’s been dubbed, falls on the third Monday in January, and is said to be the single most melancholy day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.
Nothing is scientifically proven here — the concept is pseudoscience at best, but there is no doubt that this time of year can be a bit of a bummer. The days are short and the dark. The cold nights are long. Our bank accounts are hurting from the holidays, and our new year’s resolutions are dropping by the wayside. And, there is still quite a lot of winter ahead of us.
So, whether you’re a believer in Blue Monday or not, here are some tips for beating the January blues and staying on track at work.
Set your sights on something exciting.
Part of the problem with this time of year is the letdown after the end of the holiday season, and the vacations from work that often come with them. Research has shown that anticipating a vacation is almost as beneficial to our mood as actually taking one. So, it can be a little tough when we start to see our holiday break fade away in the rear-view mirror. The solution should be fun and pretty simple to carry out — plan something else that you can start to get excited about. It doesn’t have to be a vacation. It could just be a weekend away, or even just an extra special evening with friends. Anything that gets you feeling excited about the future will do.
Get moving again. And, do it outside when you can.
Cold temperatures can make it more difficult to get outside for those runs and hikes you’re so good about following through on at other times of year. But, a change in your exercise routine, or even just lack of exercise in general, could make you feel more depressed. So, get to the gym when you can. Regular exercise can do wonders for your mood.
Also, try to bundle up and get outside once in a while. Sunlight and fresh air offer real health benefits such as increased energy, improved overall health, better sleep, and reduced stress and depression levels. On top of all that, keep in mind that you burn more calories when you exercise in the cold weather, so it’s okay if you aren’t able to keep at it for as long as you would on a warmer day. It’s kind of nice to give yourself a bit of a break in the winter, too.
Know that you don’t have to be happy all the time.
We put an awful lot of pressure on ourselves in this culture when it comes to happiness. And, some think it might be backfiring on us. Focusing too much on trying to be happy, or over-emphasizing it on a day-to-day basis, might add unneeded pressure.
Instead, stop trying so hard to be happy. Acknowledge the importance of authentically feeling a wide range of emotions in order to fully experience all that life has to offer. Being a little melancholy in the winter might be normal for a reason. Maybe these emotions have value, too.
Step away from social media.
The internet, and our social media profiles, are all too available during those moments when we’re feeling a little down. When you get distracted at your desk, it’s natural to take a detour through social media before returning to work. But that doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Social media can make people feel bad, and bad about themselves, for a lot of different reasons. There are healthier alternatives if you have a few minutes to browse around on the internet.
Turn it around.
The man who came up with the concept of Blue Monday, Dr. Cliff Arnall, formerly of Cardiff University, has his own advice on how to cope. In addition to spending time with people who love you, which is a great way to heal a dreary mood, he suggests using the day to refocus on things you’d like to change. If Blue Monday is supposedly the day we start to let up on our resolutions, why not to try to do the opposite instead.
“Use Blue Monday as a springboard for change,” Dr Arnall told The Telegraph, “whether it is to lose weight, stop smoking, embark on a dream or change job. Make the most of your life and live it to the fullest.”
Regain control of the day, and decide what it’s about for you. This is a great way to turn Blue Monday around and use it to your full advantage.
The same idea is true for the rest of the winter as well. Try to consciously make decisions that will help you thrive during these next few months. It can take a little more effort to enjoy your work in the same way during winter. But, the right attitude and approach could make all the difference in the world.
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