7 ways to help employees tackle Blue Monday
Every year on 20th January, the phenomenon of Blue Monday spreads across the UK to supposedly put a dark cloud of depression over one and all. The polar opposite of Christmas day.
To help your employees get through Blue Monday, we’ve compiled 7 ways you can encourage them to be more mindful on the most depressing day of the year.
What is Blue Monday?
The idea of Blue Monday has gained popularity over recent years and stems from a piece of academic research in 2005 by Dr Cliff Arnall. He used a scientific formula to pinpoint the 20th January as the day when people feel at their lowest – although he now regrets drawing attention to it!
Why is Blue Monday so depressing?
For many of us, the supposition that mid-January is the low-point of the year doesn't come as a surprise. Pay-day seems unreachable and the fun of Christmas is firmly in the rear-view mirror.
However, a general feeling wasn’t what Dr Arnall based his research on. He took into account weather, debt, motivational levels and New Year's resolutions which people have already started to break.
So with those factors in mind, here are our 7 ways to help employees tackle Blue Monday:
1. Allow more time for socialising
This is our top tip to avoid loneliness at work, especially on Blue Monday.
A problem shared is a problem halved, so encourage your employees to spend more time talking – without feeling guilty about not doing their work. Socialising is a core part of most employee wellbeing initiatives- and for good reason!
Chatting with colleagues about what's bothering them can help them find people struggling with similar issues, as well as being able to see the situation from a different perspective. And you’ll soon see moods improve if there’s laughter along the way.
2. Embrace the power of office dogs
What could be more therapeutic than petting one of our canine counterparts? Studies even show that being around dogs increases serotonin, helping people to relax and stay calm.
If you don’t have a policy of allowing people to bring dogs into the office, you can make Blue Monday the day to change that. And if you don’t have any on hand, you can always use sites like BorrowMyDoggy to ensure you get some pet power.
3. Provide a free lunch
Free lunches are the way to any employee’s heart. Even more so if you provide a healthy, mood-boosting lunch which helps keep energy and happiness levels up. Of course, you could also choose to provide an unhealthy option to really make people happy.
If you do choose to do this, make sure you get everyone in your workplace to take the time to eat together away from their desks. They can then use the time to talk about something other than work, and might even build new friendships.
4. Get people moving
Exercise releases endorphins which make people happy. There are no two ways about that. And the exercise doesn’t even need to be vigorous. A brisk walk outside can be all it takes to get people to reset and smile.
Try setting up a walking group for the mid-afternoon slump or set a jogging route for those who want to work up a sweat.
5. Have a mindful afternoon
Not everyone will want to take part in exercise, let's be honest. So for those who prefer, give them the time to meditate or try some desk yoga. Mindfulness is key to maintaining good workplace wellbeing.
We’ve heard from many of our clients how their employees love using the free online desk yoga classes available through Perkbox. It only takes ten minutes but makes such a positive impact on people’s state of mind.
6. Let people start late
At this time of year, a lack of sunlight and vitamin D can dramatically decrease the mood of your workforce. In fact, Public Health England state that 29% of UK adults are vitamin D deficient through January to March – that’s over 9.4m working people!
If you can, let employees start an hour or two later so they can get some sunlight before coming into the office. You could also put SAD lights on their desks to ensure they keep their vitamin D levels topped up.
7. And a little tip for yourself
Grab your headphones.
Head to the bathroom.
Dance to your favourite happy song.
And leave with massive smile like nothing happened!
There you have it, 7 effective ways to combat the workplace stress of Blue Monday. Don't make it complicated, the solution is to find something that works for you and your employees, and stick to it.