20th January, 2020

Blue Monday

The story goes that a university Lecturer calculated a formula to identify the most depressing day of the year, however this was debunked and exposed as a promotional stunt by the travel industry.

There is, however, some truth in the effect of the elements of the equation upon our mental health. Here are some handy tips and tricks on how to combat the Blues, which ever day they might happen.

(W + D -d) TQ ÷ MNa

  • W = Weather
  • D = Debt
  • d = Salary
  • T = Time since Christmas
  • Q = Time since failing our new year’s resolution
  • Na = Need to take action

W = Weather

Although there is nothing, we can do to change the weather, we can change how we think or feel about it. If it is raining outside but you have no plans, perfect, enjoy the cosiness and the relaxing sound of the rain on your window.

However, if you do have plans and need to run to the car, pop to the shop or walk to the bus stop, you have 2 options:

1) Be annoyed and angry and get wet,

2) Or embrace it; experience the feel of the rain on your skin and the fresh smell of puddles on the concrete. There is something magical about the experience when you let yourself enjoy it.

In both scenarios you will need a towel but the difference in how you feel and the effect on your mood for the rest of the day is astounding. You can adopt this change in any situation that you have no control over; if you drop your phone in the morning and crack the screen then spend the rest of the day sulking about it this will have a ripple effect and cause other negative things to happen and have a larger impact on how low you feel for the rest of the day. When the day ends your phone will still be broken but you might have also broken a few other things in this cloud of gloom.

Instead, if you choose to focus on the positive things about the day and try not to dwell on the phone, your phone stays broken, but you have a much better day! Neither path leads to a magically fixed phone but having an optimistic view will keep your mind healthy.

D = Debt

Christmas should be about having fun not money worries. However, there is an unavoidable expense and early paydays make the following month a long one. Here are some tips on how to make it through January.

  • Make plans to have no plans. A month of spending time with family and friends can be overwhelming and expensive; a break is just what you need! Time for yourself is important and conveniently can also be free
  • Plan your meals. Winter is the perfect time for large batches of stews, chilli and cottage pie. Stretching your food allowance further and a healthy change from the overindulgent means you have been enjoying
  • Declutter and profit. Now is the perfect time to go through and sell all the things you no longer need. Making room for all your new gifts, and a few extra pennies to help you through till pay day

T = Time since Christmas

Yes, Christmas has come and gone and the big build up lasted for so long for the day to be over so quickly but why does that excitement and happiness have to fade? You may not get many presents in January, but there are plenty of other ways to keep that Christmas spirit alive!

Spend more quality time with family and friends. Why not have a games night, charades can be played all year round, stay in and watch a movie or listen to music. Learn a new skill together, try baking or cooking. Even something as simple as going for a walk together.  These are all the things we remember the most when we look back. The time we spent with people and how they made us feel. Making memories together is priceless.

Change you focus from the time since Christmas to investing your time wisely so that every day feels special.

Q = Time since Failing New Year’s Resolution

Now I have never been a fan of New Year’s resolutions in general. I believe that you want to make changes or achieve something you should do so as and when you want to. The impending New Year’s Day, after a month of indulgence and relaxing is often not the most optimum time to make some life changes. Often the pressure of comparing ourselves to others success, or the daily reminder that you are on day 18/19/20 of your task and you are struggling, can be detrimental.

If you have already fallen off the wagon, it’s ok, it happens. It’s your reaction that’s important. If it is still something you want to do, brush yourself off and try again.

If you have lost the drive to continue, that’s ok too. Maybe now isn’t the time. Don’t let the date dictate when is the right time for you to make a change or try something new. Don’t set yourself up for a fall, resolutions should have a positive effect on you, not make you feel worse.

This year I am focusing on getting healthier, but I did not start on January the first. Instead I enjoyed my big roast dinner on New Year’s Day topped off with a dessert and have since then been slowly making my way through all the Christmas treats. I plan to focus on this in February instead, when the house is clear of all the temptations which have been enjoyed without guilt and I am in the right head space to make this change. I can focus on a meal plan and stay on track whilst also allowing myself the odd treat occasionally.

Another goal I have set myself is to train for the Race for Life. I will start running in March, when the evenings are lighter and hopefully so am I from a month of healthy eating. I can head out just after the kids have gone to bed and still have time to relax before my bedtime.

If I had started either of these tasks on January 1st I can tell you with full certainty that I would have failed already. I would feel disheartened and lack motivation to reach my goals. Most likely wouldn’t attempt to reach them again.

Be kind to yourself, give yourself a break and set realistic goals. Only you can hold yourself accountable, be proud of yourself for trying.

M = Low Motivational Levels

It’s been a full-on couple of months of planning, parties and festivities, not leaving a lot of time to take it easy and just relax. Your motivation has been pushed to its limit so it’s no surprise it takes a bit of a crash once it is all over. But life goes on and we still need to get things done. This can be difficult when you’re feeling this deflated. So let’s try a few tools to help us get through this month!

Plan

Make lists, plan your days and tackle one task at a time. Figure out your most productive times and make the most of them, scheduling in tough tasks and errands and leaving easier tasks for your calmer hours.

Breaks

Take time out for you. It’s important to not push yourself to the limit. Take care of you. Don’t try and do big tasks in one go, ignoring your needs in the process. Make time for a drink, some food or just a short rest. The task will be completed more efficiently, and you are less likely to quit all together.

Set Targets

Start building up your motivation levels by setting yourself small targets and goals to achieve. The success of completing them will boost your mood and improve your productivity. They don’t need to be large tasks or overwhelming aims but small, simple and achievable things which can be completed with ease.

Remember that New Years Resolution? this is a great way to tackle it again without the pressure.

Na = Need to take action

Whilst it’s ok to plan to do all of this, actually getting up and doing it can be hard. The feeling that we need to make changes and take action can often feel overwhelming and in itself detrimental to our motivation.

One way to cope is to reward yourself. After a long day “adulting” allocate some time for hobbies, relaxing or quality time with family. The key is to remember that down time is just as important. Without it we are more likely to feel over worked and unable to cope.  Don’t lose your get up and go approach. Make sure self-care is on your priorities list.

Is every Monday a Blue Monday? If the answer is yes than maybe you need to make a bigger change.

If your job isn’t giving you satisfaction and making you dread the start of the week its time you found another.

If you can’t seem to find the staff who fit your vision perfectly, let someone else find the right people for you.

If you feel like you are drowning, reach out for help.

Your mental health is important and investing time in yourself should be a priority. Let us take away some of the stress so you can focus on being the best version of you, you can be and leave Blue Mondays in the past.