January 21, 2019
As memories of yuletide euphoria and indulgence begin to fade and are replaced with the realities of stretched bank accounts and broken New Year’s resolutions, the concept of “Blue Monday” is rearing its ugly head.
In addition to it being a glorious song by new wave band New Order, it is supposedly the most depressing day of the year. This year it is January 21st, according to a mathematical formula involving factors such as the weather, debt level, time since the holidays, low motivational levels, and the feeling of a need to take charge of the situation.
The very concept of Blue Monday among the psychologist community is quite divisive, as there are no real foundations in scientific research, despite it having an awesome looking formula with a range of arithmetic operations on display. In addition, depression is more than simply feeling unhappy or fed up for a day, it is a persistent state that lasts weeks or months and is a genuine health condition that could require treatment. Therefore, terming it the most depressing day of the year arguably devalues a mental health condition that needs to be taken seriously. The fact that the term “Blue Monday” was first conceived by a PR agency in 2005, highlights why many question its validity.
However, the fact that Blue Monday has lived on in the cultural zeitgeist suggests that despite its questionable sources, the idea resonate with us in a very tangible way. We all can attest to feeling slightly out of sorts after the wondrous and magical holiday season. For many, this time of year is typically where the realities of work and life come into sharp focus, and the epic battle to maintain those resolutions become a little bit harder.
In our research with 183 HR Directors, Managers and Professionals, 82% said that resilience is either extremely important or very important for employees (with 0% saying that it wasn’t important). So even though it may not be the “most depressing day of the year,” it is a reminder of the importance of being resilient and using strategies to offset the effects of any external factors that may be negatively affecting you.
Obviously, there are a range of approaches that you can take to proactively address potential negative feelings, for example booking a holiday, basking in the sun, and drinking a range of elaborate concoctions with strategically placed garnishes/decorations. However, with my Business Psychology hat on, the area of resilience and mindset provides some more useful and sustainable ideas.
Self-belief: Remind yourself that you can do whatever you have set out to do. Remember and note down all of the occasions that you had other significant goals that you felt were impossible and that you were able to achieve in the end. Those goals may be different to the ones that you set out for this year but reminding yourself of the occasions where you have done this can be of great value.
Purposeful Direction: Remind yourself of why you have set the resolutions you have and what you want to achieve by doing them. Reminding yourself of those factors will hopefully reignite the desire to deliver those goals. It is also worth reviewing those goals and ensure that they are realistic, measurable and time bounded. If you haven’t set any goals or resolutions, it is potentially worth considering what you want to achieve in 2019 and what would make it a successful year. Just having a goal helps increase the chances of delivering it.
Challenge Orientation: If you have set yourself resolutions that are difficult to achieve or are outside your comfort zone, remember what you’re learning from that experience and remind yourself of the value of achieving them will be. If you have not set yourself a goal that is outside your comfort zone, consider the benefits and how it can be a vehicle to help you grow. If something isn’t difficult or feels too easy, in many cases it’s probably not worth doing.
Wherever you are in terms of your feelings, remind yourself that your mind and the support of others holds the power to help you along the way. World events, political turmoil, and Blue Monday may not be the most positive backdrop for self-improvement. Nevertheless, remember resilience is not some immutable quality. It is something we can improve and enhance with concerted effort.
Remind yourself of what is within your control and avoid focusing on what is outside of that sphere of influence. Through the power of self-belief, purposeful direction, and challenge orientation 2019 can be a great year for you.
Research shows that high levels of Resilience (or mental toughness) can improve job performance. During our webinar we explore the topic of resilience in today’s world of work.
Ali Shalfrooshan is a Managing R&D Consultant at PSI Services LLC.
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