Workday Blues – January Misery

The Most Miserable Day of the Year

So, according to the media this week, the ‘most miserable day of the year’ is the third Monday in January, now officially called ‘Blue Monday’. It came from a scientific formula created by the psychologist Dr Cliff Arnall which took on board variables such as the weather, debt, monthly salary, time since Christmas, time since the failure of your new year’s resolution to give something up, your level of motivation and the need to take action.

Yikes, it was depressing just writing all this and has actually left me feeling a little sad when I felt fine before!

Mental Wellbeing Really can be Lower in the Winter Months

My initial thoughts are that this is just another rather ridiculous media created story using a bunch of topical variables plucked from the air, with very little scientific evidence. But it is a fact that mental wellbeing can be lower in the winter months. Some recent research by consultants Peldon Rose reveals that 44% of employees say winter has a negative effect on their wellbeing with half believing it affects their mood and 30% their productivity.

The Importance of Serotonin and Melatonin

So what’s happening? Well a big culprit is the low level of natural light during the winter months in the UK which alter the levels of two hormones, serotonin and melatonin in the brain. The change in diet from healthy summer fruit and salad to a heavy winter diet can leave you feeling sluggish and lower in nutrient reserves – particularly if you’ve had a bad cold recently; and the reality that it’s a long time until you have another two weeks off work can lower your mood.

But you can turn this around if you put your mind to it.

Some Tips to Boost your Mental Wellbeing

  1. Give your brain a boost by eating more oily fish (salmon, mackerel, trout). Tinned tuna is no good because those important omega oils are extracted during the canning process but tinned salmon is good and can be used to make a tasty sandwich if you add some salad to it.
  2. Get out and walk, particularly if you work in an office with no natural light. Natural light has a big impact on the hormones in the brain which impact our happiness and ability to sleep at night. Even if you’re bringing a sandwich to work rather than getting out of the office to buy something, get out and have twenty minutes in natural light at lunchtime; it’s incredibly restorative. It may still be -2C but wrap up warm and go to the park.
  3. Utilise the power of your mind. Put things in perspective and think positively about what you have to be thankful for. Each evening before you go to sleep record three things that you are grateful for that day. When you wake in the morning, set yourself a positive intention such as I am successful, I am happy or I am fabulous.

This positive mindset has the power to blow away the winter blues.

Now download our Top 10 Tips to Building Career Resilience

Susan Scott
How to prevent burnout and reignite your life and career
How to have an outstanding career

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