Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
1:00 AM 13th January 2024

Tips For Staying Positive On 'The Most Depressing Day Of The Year'

Image by WaqasAhmaD8989 from Pixabay
Image by WaqasAhmaD8989 from Pixabay
Blue Monday (falling on the third Monday of the year) can lead to negative outlooks and attitudes amongst some individuals facing the return to normality following the festive break.

Financial worries after an expensive Christmas, work stress, and the cold, dark mornings associated with this time of year can understandably have a detrimental effect on the moods of thousands, but how can one get ahead and take proactive steps to mimimise the negative impact of Blue Monday, and keep a positive focus on both their work and social life?

Rachael Rothwell, People and Culture Manager at digital PR agency JBH, outlines some of the simple ways individuals and employers alike can use to promote wellbeing and positive mindsets as we approach Blue Monday and beyond:

Practice meditation techniques

Mindfulness meditation has a number of positive health benefits, including the improvement of your immune system function, boosting interpersonal relationships, and reducing pent-up stress and anxiety.

Meditating is surprisingly simple and something that anyone can partake in. All you need to do is find someplace quiet and relaxing, and dedicate a minimum of 15 minutes to freeing your mind of thoughts, deliberately letting each thought go until you achieve a pure state of mindfulness.

Whilst it may take some practice to get used to the process, once you do, you'll start noticing yourself more hyper-focused in previously stressful everyday situations.

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For those who stare at screens all day as part of their job role, the brain can start to feel tired and lacking in creativity after a long days work. Therefore, immersing yourself into a fictional world or even consuming blog posts or features related to your industry can help to reactivate your brain.

The more often you read, the more accustomed your brain will become at storing information, improving your skill set and knowledge. All that information will eventually come in handy as you engage in work-based conversations, start new projects, and attempt to solve more complex problems.

Socialise with others

Now that remote and hybrid working is a permanent part of many peoples lives, it is easy to go whole days without socially interacting with work colleagues, friends and family members. However, social interaction is extremely important for keeping your brain energised and educated.

​​You'd be amazed what you can gain from a simple face-to-face conversation with another person to discuss any issues, fears or barriers you are currently dealing with either within or outside the workplace. Social interactions and sharing information with others will also allow you to discover new perspectives, new ideas, and new coping methods of dealing with the January blues that you might not have previously considered. These interactions will also help to develop your abilities to focus, learn, and analyse difficult situations.

Incorporate exercise into your routine

Physical exercise is proven to have a positive effect on your mental health, providing more oxygen-rich blood to your brain, giving you direct and temporarily greater mental stimulation.

Even a small amount of exercise, whether it be a lunchtime walk, run or even yoga session, will help to stabilise your mood and increase focus and attention.

The short-term and long-term benefits of physical exercise (both aerobic and anaerobic) are well worth the time investment, particularly if completed once or twice a day and over an extended period of time in order for you to reap the benefits.

Utilise beneficial breathing techniques

Deep breathing (the kind used in meditation) will help you to focus and remain energised throughout your day. Try to conduct breathing exercises whenever you start to feel tired or anxious.

Sit or lie in a comfortable position, keeping your legs and spine straight and place one hand on your abdomen and one on your chest.

Then inhale slowly and deeply through your nose and into your abdomen, until your lungs are full.

Pause for a few seconds, then exhale slowly through the mouth, making a quiet whooshing sound, until your lungs are empty. Repeat the process until you start to feel calmer and more mentally prepared to continue your day.

Another breathing practice that may prove beneficial for those looking to calm their mind and body, is the 4-7-8 technique. This simple process involves inhaling for four seconds, holding your breath for seven seconds, and then fully exhaling for eight seconds. The variability between inhalation and exhalation is believed by experts to be the mechanism that helpes the sympathetic nervous system down regulate during periods of high stress or anxiety.