Blue Monday. It's an awesome song by New Order but not so awesome when it comes to our mental health.
Most news outlets are trumpeting the news that today is the most depressing day of the year. While there certainly are many factors that could lead us to feeling down - the holidays are long gone, the bills need to be paid, our motivation to be our best selves in 2020 is waning - did you know that Blue Monday was actually created as a marketing campaign in 2005?
The marketing campaign used a formula that included weather conditions, debt levels and the need to take action, among other things. The idea really caught on and has been used by several companies, and picked up by the media every year, to highlight the collective malaise that we are all apparently feeling.
Blue Monday shows how easily we can be hijacked by external factors, feelings and the stories we tell ourselves that can put us in a slump and make us feel stuck.
Here are three ways you can feel better on Blue Monday, or any day that you're feeling stuck and unmotivated:
1. Be mindful of the effect of external events or stressors. Especially on a Monday morning, we may be on autopilot and just doing what we can do get through the day. In other words, you may be surviving rather than thriving. Today, take a few moments to be mindful of your environment and what you're taking in from the media, conversations you're having and even the thoughts that are popping into your head.
For example, if you spend your morning commute reading or listening to news items that are filled with anxiety-producing headlines, remember that your brain has a difficult time knowing what's 'real' (i.e. happening to you) and what is not. Your brain and body will unconsciously respond to the perceived threat in the headlines and can create feelings of stress in the body and create thoughts of worry in the mind.
Instead of getting sucked into bad news, consider listening to a positive audiobook or listening to empowering affirmations. If you do listen to the news, be conscious of whether you are experiencing any physical symptoms, such as tight muscles or an upset stomach, as you listen. If you are, either stop taking the information in or consciously tell yourself that you are safe, calm and relaxed.
2. Separate feelings from facts. If you hear that today is the most depressing day of the year, you may start to feel more unhappy. The first step to feeling better is to separate feelings from facts. Is today the most depressing day of the year? It isn't, it's simply advertised as such based on a marketing campaign that became viral and is written about every year. So folks may feel depressed based on something that isn't a fact.
Do you have more reasons to feel upset today than you did yesterday? It's possible that you do, but it's unlikely. If you're triggered by one of the Blue Monday stressors, such as debt after the holidays, then take 15 minutes today to make a plan. You could go online and use a calculator to figure out how long it will take to get out of debt and set up automatic payments in your bank account to pay down the debt in a certain amount of time. Or you could research financial advisors and set up an appointment to make a plan to improve your financial health.
Don't stay stuck in your feelings. Your feelings are a guide, not the destination!
3. Rewrite the stories you're telling yourself. External events and feelings can help contribute to negative self-talk. The words we say to ourselves are the most powerful conversations that we'll ever have. By following steps 1 and 2 above, you can determine if external stressors are getting you down and if you're stuck in your feelings and need to move past them.
To create a positive environment in your mind, set your calendar with 3 reminders today for one minute. When you get the reminder, write down what you're thinking at that time. Are you telling yourself stories from the past that you can't do anything about and that don't serve you? Are you feeling stuck in your present situation and telling yourself that you can't move forward? Maybe you are feeling worried or uncertain about the future and telling yourself stories that scare you.
If you are in a negative environment or hearing a lot of complaining or negative conversations, go for a walk around the block to literally remove yourself from the situation, focus on your breathing and reset your mind, body and spirit to have a better day. Then, take 5 minutes and write down a positive story you can tell yourself to replace the negative story. Keep the positive story handy - on your phone or in your desk - and refer to it whenever you catch yourself having negative thoughts.
Let me know in the comments how you plan to deal with Blue Monday and if you've tried any of these tips. For more help and guidance on transforming your life contact me or check out the Change Without Pain online course.