It’s been almost two decades since the third Monday in January was named as the most depressing day of the year and given the appropriately sad sounding title of ‘Blue Monday’.
In that time, scientists have dismissed the formula used to calculate this date (which takes into account the weather conditions, meaning it only applies to those of us in the Northern Hemisphere who are currently midway through winter) and even the person who came up with it has admitted it was ‘made up’. Tellingly, the day was thought up by a travel company, so it’s easy to see why they’d promote a day which would potential encourage people to book a holiday and jet off in search of sunshine.
But, even if there’s no scientific basis for this one day to be named as the worst of the year when it comes to your mood, there’s no denying that January can be a pretty rubbish month – whether that’s down to the cost of keeping your heating on all the time, the seemingly-constant rainfall, or the return to the daily routine after the whirlwind of Christmas parties and presents.
So whether you’re a Blue Monday believer or not, it’s worth keeping in mind those things you can do to brighten up your January.
Here at Paycare, we support the health and wellbeing of people and organisations across the UK, so we’ve put together three quick and easy tips for individuals, and three tips for employers, to help banish those blues:
For you (tips for individuals):
- Get outside! It’s easy to stay wrapped up indoors, but all of the physical and mental health benefits we gain from a quick walk round the block – or even a few minutes stood outside – apply in the winter too. Reduced stress and improved self-esteem are just two of the associated advantages, so layer up in those winter woollens and venture outside at least once a day if you can.
- Get laughing! Everyone likes to laugh, right? But did you know, laughing can actually provide natural pain-relief, boost your immune system and activate your body’s stress-relief mechanism? Sounds like the perfect excuse to pop on a funny film or even attend a stand-up show.
- Get hydrated! Being dehydrated causes your body to release stress chemicals, therefore making you even more stressed than you were before. So ensuring you’re drinking enough water during the day is a simple and effective step you can take to improve your wellbeing.
For your team (tips for employers):
- It’s good to talk! Approachability and accessibility as a manager are key to ensure your team can come to you with any concerns they have. But sometimes, they may want to keep their personal problems private or may want to chat to someone they don’t know about any issues they’re having. That’s why if they have access to an Employee Assistance Programme, it’s essential to ensure you promote how to use it and when it can be used (i.e. for any problem they want to chat through confidentially).
- Walk the walk! It’s no good reminding your team to take regular breaks, take time off if they are genuinely poorly, and switch off during their down-time if you do none of these things yourself. We’ve all heard the saying about ‘walking the walk’ alongside ‘talking the talk’ and this is an absolutely crucial component of ensuring your company culture is one where everyone feels comfortable prioritising their wellbeing.
- Evolve and engage! When was the last time you updated your Workplace Wellbeing strategy? Rather than being a static document, it should regularly evolve to take into account team feedback, current wellbeing needs, and the very best practices and policies. Why not host a team session during January to engage staff about what they’d like to see in your strategy?
If you’d like to chat about how Paycare can support you and your team through Blue Monday and beyond, then do get in touch – as an organisation we’ve been around for 149 years now, boosting the health and happiness of the UK, so we’d love to talk to you about our mood-lifting, stress-busting and health-improving offerings, whether you’re an individual or a manager looking to support their staff.