With 15 January marking Blue Monday – deemed to be the most depressing day of the year – author Philip Cox-Hynd offers three employee tips to help give workers a boost of New Year positivity.
The Christmas and New Year period is a strange one in our culture. If we stop to think about it, it has elements of a “perfect storm” that most of us wouldn’t want to entertain during most other times of the year.
Around this time each year most of us end up buying lots of presents for many people who may not fully appreciate them – sometimes gifts that aren’t really needed, or that we can’t fully afford.
There’s a pressure of activity leading up to Christmas that most can’t escape or don’t know how to cope with, and then we add in shorter days, enforced meetings with family members we probably haven’t seen since last year, all building to the big moments of Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve.
And then, it all suddenly stops. The days are shorter, the weather is often challenging, we realise that our resolve to drink and eat less than we did last year hasn’t worked, and the bank statement reflects the overspending.
It can be difficult to talk about the true effects of the end of year, and the effects the two-week period of indulgence around Christmas and New Year can have, on many people’s emotional state.
In many cases, British maxims like “pull yourself together”, “stop moaning” and “keep calm and carry on” don’t really work. A slightly different approach in the first few weeks in January after the return to work may be helpful.
Three steps to beating Blue Monday
Have the courage to talk to select friends about how you really feel about going back to work, and what the Christmas and New Year period were like for you. Include all of the good stuff, the not so good, and the stuff you really didn’t like.
Write down some of the things you ended up doing this Christmas and New Year which you didn’t really didn’t want to do, and write down the things you really enjoyed.
Then, make a diary note to revisit these lists in September or October thus year, before you’ve planned your Christmas and New Year, to see what changes you can make ahead of the traditional two weeks of annual indulgence that might give you a different outcome.
Start an honesty group at work – half an hour at lunchtime or in the evening at the pub to talk about how people really feel coming back to work, based on the maxim that a problem aired and a problem shared is a problem halved.
Unless staff go to a sunny climate for two weeks and cancel family Christmas, most of us can’t change the climate, the weather or the pressures around us to go through the prescribed routine of Christmas and New Year.
However, but we can make some choices that may result in us beating Blue Monday and feeling a little less low once we are back in our routine as the new year gets underway.
Philip Cox-Hynd is a change implementation specialist and author of Mindfulness and the Art of Change by Choice
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