7 secrets to beating ‘Blue Monday’, by Rob Holcroft
Rob Holcroft, from Worcestershire, is an executive coach and well-being consultant, specialising in leadership development, emotional intelligence and the impact of posture and physical behaviour on psychological and emotional well-being. He is a full member of the Association of Coaching with an MA in Education specialising in Mentoring and Coaching. Rob is also a YouTube vlogger and author of six feel good fables for boosting children’s confidence and self-esteem.
As well as being the title to an iconic track by 80s band, New Order, Blue Monday is now accredited to the third Monday in January. It is believed to be the most depressing day of the year, according to claims made by a travel company back in 2005. With more relationships breaking down in January than any other month, finances being tight because of Christmas spending and payday still one week away, it is not surprising that people might feel low. Add to this the short daylight hours and cold weather and life can certainly seem quite dark. It is often at this point that we give up our New Year resolutions too and slip back into old habits, ending up disappointed with ourselves for failing. It’s enough to make you want to just go back to bed and hide under the covers until the spring.
But wait! All is not lost! In essence, this is our real, bleak mid-winter. Blue Monday is the deepest part of our calendar winter, which means that after today we move away from winter and towards spring. We only have another month and a half, just six weeks, before we arrive at the dawn of spring, with its vibrancy of colour, daylight, warmth, new life and, most of all, hope for a brighter future. Blue Monday may be the darkest of days but it announces the brightest of days ahead. It is all about your perception of this day. If you perceive it to be a depressing day then it will no doubt live up to your expectations. If, however, you choose to perceive it as the turning point of winter, a chance to re-evaluate your goals, dreams and aspirations and a herald of better days to come, then Blue Monday can cease to be blue.
If you are struggling with life though then there are things that you can do to help yourself get through this day.
1) Get outside. Spend as much time as possible outside. Sunshine is limited at this time of year, in the UK, and yet it is vital for the production of Vitamin D and healthy functioning. However, daylight is better than artificial lighting, so get out when you can.
2) Get active. Even if it is a brisk walk, or an exercise DVD or just putting some music on and having a dance around for half an hour. Do something that gets your heart rate up and your body moving. You’ll reduce the effects of stress and produce endorphins and these make you happy!
3) Eat nutritionally. Feed yourself foods with a high nutritional content. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole foods. Limit or eliminate processed foods and sugar. We operate better on good quality fuel.
4)Avoid alcohol. Drinking alcohol has become socially acceptable and yet many people use it as a form of self-medication to relieve distress. Alcohol is a depressant. Drinking alcohol will not make you feel better in the long run.
5) Put pen to paper. Handwrite your thoughts and feelings out onto paper. Often we lack clarity when times are bad because our many thoughts and feelings become confusing and cloud our judgement. When you write by hand you give a direct outlet from your conscious and unconscious mind and connect with yourself in a way that typing doesn’t allow.
6) Make plans. Having something to look forward to makes for a compelling future. The happiest people have compelling futures while the unhappiest struggle envisaging a future for themselves. Never rely on others to do things for you. Make your own plans.
7) Be social. Loneliness is debilitating. We are social creatures and benefit on many levels from social interaction, whether that is with just one other person or a huge crowd of people. Isolation is not conducive to feeling good. We have a natural desire to belong and be part of a group.
Ultimately, remember the power of a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you believe Monday will be blue then it most probably will. If, however, you believe it will be great then it has more chance of being so.