Blue Monday - the most depressing day of the year? With daylight hours still short, consistently bad weather and the hangover of Christmas – both financially and emotionally – still looming over us all, it’s easy to see why the third Monday of the year is synonymous with feeling low. But can we and should we reduce feeling depressed down to one specific day of the year?
Originally put forward by psychologist Dr. Cliff Arnall in 2005, Blue Monday is the result of a formula based on weather, debt, time passed since the failure of an attempt to give something up in January and low motivational levels. Although on the surface the formula may seem credible, it has come under a lot of criticism for lacking accuracy thanks to Arnall not specifying the units of measurement.
At NABS, we’re not convinced. The fact is, we see no increase in calls to our Advice Line throughout the winter months, nor a significant uptake in any of our services as a direct result of Blue Monday. However, we all understand the strain of January; the uphill struggle to get back into work after weeks of doing nothing but eating, drinking and socialising. The fact is January is a tricky month, not just the third Monday. So how can we take control and keep on top in our high demand industry?
1) Get organised: Recognise that we are human beings and therefore are not perfect. We do make mistakes and fail at times. We need to train ourselves to think ahead and put the appropriate systems in place to prevent such situations from happening (or happening as frequently). Think about which situations occur regularly and cause you stress.
- a) Client meetings? - Plan the journey, allow extra time if it is not a journey you do every day, have an alternative route and take the client’s number with you in case of any delays.
- b) Have a designated place in your house for your keys, travel card, passport etc. This is your go-to place to put any items.
- c) Lists can be detailed but do what is right for you. Consider lists for work, for socialising, for life maintenance.
- d) Take photos on your phone of your receipts, where you park your car, your journey route on Citymapper to get to your client meeting. Whatever makes you feel more in control, especially when under pressure.
2) Visualisation: A great way to plan for hurdles that trip us up and make us nervous and stressed. By preparing for a bad situation in advance mentally, you have allowed your brain and body to partly experience the situation, so it is ready to react practically and less emotionally during the stressful moment.
3) Exercise: Regular exercise can help you burn off the excess adrenaline and cortisol your body has built up in response to stress throughout the day. Hitting the gym after a particularly stressful day can help you rebuild your serotonin levels and make you feel in control once again.
4) Food: Taking care of ourselves is vital. When presented with a stressor, the energy used for other systems such as our digestive is reduced, leaving us feeling nauseous, sick and sluggish. To counteract this, we should avoid skipping meals, consider the nutrients we need and replenish ourselves.
5) Get to know your breathing: Stop and take note of where you are breathing from. If it is the top of our chest and it is fast, take a few minutes out and take deep breaths. Reduce the chain reaction trigger sequence of stress by stopping your body from producing more cortisol and adrenaline than is required. This is where mindfulness and yoga can really support you in creating new habits to do this.
Whilst we can do our best to manage our stress, it is important that we remember that it is not just ‘all in the mind’. It’s a very real response to workplace and home-life pressure, affecting us both mentally and physically. Thankfully, advancements are being made in the area of stress management through techniques such as mindfulness and resilience. These are not just buzz words; they’re topics of utmost importance.
Depression, stress and all other factors associated with them shouldn’t be simply grouped together into one day. Stress and depression can affect us all at any point in our lives, especially in an industry as demanding as media and advertising.
The NABS Advice Line team is always here to help those in the industry no matter what, or arrange a session with one of our career coaches to discuss your career in 2016: 0800 707 6607 or visit nabs.org.uk