Swap ‘Blue Monday’ for ‘Brew Monday’
Blue Monday: Taking care of your mental wellbeing in 2023
January can be a tough month for many, as the post-holiday blues can take a toll on our mental well-being. The term “Blue Monday”, widely used to describe the third Monday of January, is often referred to as the most depressing day of the year. However, it’s important to note that mental health issues can affect individuals at any time, not just on Blue Monday.
A study by Mind suggest that 1 in 4 people experience mental health issues in the UK, highlighting the importance of addressing and prioritising this topic for ourselves and colleagues, both in and out of the workplace.
What causes the feeling of post-holiday blues?
Feeling down after a holiday is a common experience, but it’s important to acknowledge these feelings and take steps to address them. We celebrate the New Year as a beckon of hope for the year ahead, but it can also come with significant pressure, such as dealing with the financial impact of Christmas, getting back into a routine, and catching up with work that you may have postponed over the festive period.
If left unaddressed, post-holiday blues can have significant negative effects on our mental health, so it is important to recognise when these feelings are impacting our daily lives and seek help if necessary. This can include talking to a trusted friend or family member, reaching out to a professional for support, or taking part in self-care activities that promote well-being.
What does experiencing this look like?
The start of a new year is often seen as an opportunity for reflection of the previous year in terms of achievements and progress and look forward to the future by setting goals for the coming year. However, this process can also lead to feelings of disappointment and comparison to others, particularly when unrealistic expectations and social media posts are taken into consideration. These negative emotions can manifest in various ways, with signs and symptoms varying between person to person. It’s important to be aware of these potential feelings and take steps to address them in a healthy and constructive manner. Key things to look out for in yourself and those surrounding you are:
- Withdrawal from friends, family, and normal activities
- Lack of interest and concentration
- Low motivation
- Increasing irritability
- Sleeping more or less than usual and feelings of exhaustion
- Inability to make decisions.
Tips for dealing with low mental health:
Connect: Building and maintaining social connections is crucial for our mental health. Try to reach out to colleagues, friends, and family, whether it be through lunch breaks, joining a club or group, or reaching out to a professional for support.
Be Active: Regular physical activity not only improves our physical health, but also our mental well-being. Setting goals and challenges, such as joining a sports team, taking regular walks, or doing home exercises can help to boost our mood and energy levels.
Take notice: Mindfulness practices such as taking notice of the present moment and being aware of our surroundings can help to improve our mental well-being. This can be done by taking a break from technology, spending time outdoors, listening to music, or practicing mindfulness and gratitude exercises.
Get creative: Engaging in creative activities can be a therapeutic and a great way to keep learning. This can include joining a club, trying a new hobby, or signing up for a course to learn a new skill.
Make the most of natural light: Regular breaks and exposure to natural light can help to combat the effects of winter, such as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Take a lunch break outside and consider using SAD lamps as a technological solution to replace the light you would normally see in the summer.
Tips for managers supporting colleagues:
Create a supportive environment for discussing mental health: Encourage open and honest communication about mental health within your team. Get to know your colleagues and understand their normal behaviour patterns, so you can recognise when something may have changed. Remember that everyone’s experience with mental health is unique and not all signs of struggle may be visible.
Check in often with team members: Recognise that not everyone will reach out for help when they are struggling. Make a habit of checking in with team members frequently, even in informal settings, to help identify signs of struggle early on.
Develop individual action plans: Encourage team members to develop individual action plans for identifying and managing triggers, the potential impact of these triggers on work, and how they want to be approached in a moment of crisis. Provide a safe and non-judgmental space for open communication.
Encourage seeking professional help: Remind colleagues that seeking help is a sign of strength and encourage them to speak to their GP about therapy options and other forms of support. If your organisation has an Employee Assistance Program or other counselling resources, make sure to inform them and offer support.
Consider adjustments to the work environment: Work with colleagues to identify and implement adjustments that may help improve their wellbeing. This may include flexible working hours, changes to the workspace, or access to quiet spaces. Remember to be flexible and responsive to their needs while ensuring that any adjustments do not negatively impact the team.
It’s also important to signpost support to organisations that can help, such as the Samaritans who are running a brilliant ‘Brew Monday’ campaign that encourages people to talk to help break the cycle of suffering alone. So, grab a cuppa and a colleague and let’s all do our bit to remove the stigma of talking about our mental wellness.
- Hub of Hope: An online service that uses your location to find closest relevant support at hubofhope.co.uk
- Anxiety UK: 03444 775 774 anxietyuk.org.uk
- Papyrus: 0800 068 41 41 papyrus-uk.org
- Young Minds: TEXT YM to 85258 youngminds.org.uk
- CALM (Campaign against living miserably): 0800 58 58 58 thecalmzone.net
- Samaritans: 116 123 samaritans.org
- Childline: 0800 1111 childline.org.uk
- Switchboard LGBT+ Helpline: 0300 330 0630 switchboard.lgbt
- Beat Eating Disorders: 0808 801 0677 beateatingdisorders.org.uk
- Mind: 0300 123 3393 mind.org.uk
- Refuge: 0808 2000 247 refuge.org.uk
- Shout 85258: TEXT SHOUT to 85258 giveusashout.org
- AA: 0800 9177 650 alcaholics-anonymous.org.uk