Blue Monday - I'm not buying into that

Today is labelled as ‘Blue Monday’ because the credit card bills come in, many of us have been paid a bit earlier in December making it a long month, the excess pounds gained over Christmas are still hanging on, dry January effects kick in, it’s cold, the days are short, bla bla bla.  Just because the media says it is Blue Monday, should we feel blue?  Covid-19 has certainly pulled rank over much of these things, and made them a day-to-day challenge, not just relevant to the 18th January, and I don’t know about you, but my credit card comes in monthly at the moment!

Interestingly, following a quick Google search, according to various articles Blue Monday was a concept based on a mathematical calculation which took lots of factors into account and determined the 3rd Monday in January was the most depressing of the year.  It turned out to be a PR stunt by a travel company, and the person who was alleged to have developed the calculation, now tries to distance himself from it.

There is no denying its been a tough year for everyone in some way, and the current news reports make grim reading.  But I don’t feel particularly ‘blue’ today and I don’t want to be persuaded that I should be because it’s ‘Blue Monday’.

Having just completed the Mental Health First Aider Training, I am in a reflective mood.  This time last year ‘Furlough’ was not a thing and ‘Forbearance’ wasn’t Martin Lewis’s buzzword. What a year it has been, it sounds like a movie plot and I think I still secretly hope there is going to be an overnight solution and we can suddenly get back to normal, ever the optimist!  I think I have done more CPD and learning in the last year than I have since the completion of my HR Degree in 2012 and I have a regular slot booked in my diary for 5pm on a Friday for a read up on new guidance on something HR Related.

Rather than buying into Blue Monday, I am looking back over the last year to try and come to terms with it, make peace with it and move on, it has been out of my control and I’ve got through it OK (some days less OK than others).  I am considering my learnings, my achievements, the amazing people I have worked with and met even though face to face contact has been restricted. I have had some quality time with my family, a regular quiz night with friends at Gin o’clock on a Friday via zoom, and time to work on my business rather than in my business.  I have also embraced self-care as an essential piece of the puzzle to being a successful business owner.  I am hopeful for the future and looking forward to new projects and challenges with three words in mind – Discovery, Connection and Balance.

Rather than think of today as Blue Monday, take it as a moment to reflect, digest, find some clarity and then look forward.  We might not quite be over the brow of the hill, but we are getting close, there is some hope that things will start to ease and improve.

But for now, here are a few of my tips for looking after yourself:

Take a moment to check-in with yourself:

  • How are you really feeling?
  • What do you need right now and what can you put in place to get the support you need?
  • When was the last time you took a bit of time out for yourself? – doing something you love or with people you love – take some time out for your self-care, crafting, cooking, baking, walking, reading, listening to music, watching a movie, meditation or a candlelit soak in the bath. We have all heard it time and time again, exercise makes you feel better, and its true, I am very reliant on a need for a walk and some fresh air each day.
  • Reflect and try and focus on the positives, what has gone well, what has helped you cope, what have you achieved – however big or small, what support and love do you have around you.
  • Perhaps reduce newsfeed content for a couple of days to give yourself space if it feels like it is getting too much.
  • Set daily goals and objectives to give a bit of structure, particularly if working from home, maybe try journaling, I am currently trialling Bullet Journaling.

You might feel it’s easy for me to make suggestions on self-care and focus on positives if you aren’t feeling that way right now, and today for me is clearly an up day, and I am running with it.  But if the reality for you is different and you are feeling low, you are struggling but this has been going on for a while and feels a bit more than having an off day or week, that’s OK too, but please try not to cope alone or let things drag on too long, early intervention is key to recovery.  As a newly Qualified Mental Health First Aider, I would urge you to take the following actions:

  • Speak to someone, don’t leave things to become more and more consuming, you need to let go of some of the stress or worry you are feeling:
  • Speak to your line manager if you are struggling at work they may be able to help with workload, priorities or working hours and help take some of the pressure off, they may be able to make a referral to an Occupational Health Advisor;
  • Your workplace may have a Mental Health First Aider, if so ask to have a chat with them, they are trained to know how to work with you to assess the situation and assist you, they will offer support and give information as needed and appropriate;
  • Do you have access to an Employment Assistance Programme (EAP) helpline through your workplace? If so they will be available and able to help, and may even be able to provide free counselling;
  • Think about whether a discussion with your GP or other health professional might be beneficial – it doesn’t automatically mean you will be placed on medication, labelled with a condition or signed off, which is what many people fear. They will be able to provide appropriate medical support and/or point you in the direction of some self-help groups and services, or they may refer you to a counsellor or therapist – these types of support can be very successful;
  • Have a chat with friends or family and let them know how you are feeling, they will want to know and help, you won’t be a burden to them, in most cases they would be more upset that they weren’t aware or couldn’t help to give the support needed;
  • You could approach a support organisation yourself, there are many I could mention but as a starting point the Samaritans, Mind, Calm, Saneline to name a few, a quick internet search would bring up lots of ideas.

At Metro HR we help employers take take of their people so their people take care of their business, we also provide peer support to other HR Professionals in standalone HR roles. If you think we can help you with your wellbeing strategy or if you are an HR professional in a standalone/independent role that would like to find out more about our Peer Support Bubbles, we would love to hear from you.  www.metrohr.co.uk   hello@metrohr.co.uk

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