We hear about the January blues every year, don’t we? And this year is no different. Well, except it is .
It’s not just the January blues - peaking with ‘Blue Monday’, the so-called most depressing day of the year, today (17 January) - Christmas has been and gone, we’re left with cold miserable weather and now, and we’re faced with a heap of other stuff on top.
Such as a continuation of last years’ Covid blues, an extra dollop of gloom in the form of the cost-of-living squeeze, looming tax increases, a hike in energy costs and it feels like the UK is in uproar against Boris Johnson and his partying pals.
Covid hasn’t just taken loved ones from us, it’s taken time from us too, and that’s tough for anyone to deal with . We’re not in a lockdown but many of us still feel locked down, mentally at least.
Even when our Covid result is negative, we still don’t feel positive.
How do we get out of the rut and when we do, what is there to look forward to?
You can probably read in a host of articles all about how you should be making plans, getting fit, losing weight, and setting some big goals, and if you’re up for that - do it.
But what if, like a growing number of people, you just can’t face it (or can’t be bothered) and you’ve already broken your New Years’ resolution?
I get that completely.
My take, albeit controversial, is that I don’t believe we should force the same way of thinking that we have done in any other January. Our lives have changed, and so have we.
Instead, here are a few alternative suggestions:
It’s your life and your plan
Give yourself a break, you don’t have to have a master plan for the year ahead (breathe a sigh of relief!). Some of the happiest and most successful people manage well with no plan at all.
Others live with more short-term ideas, which means you decide what you want to do this week, or this month. What’s more important is that you are getting the best out of your life as it’s happening- one day at a time .
Big fancy plans can often cause you to stress about what you have or haven’t achieved. You don’t need that.
If you want to join the ‘great resignation’ and leave your job like millions of others are, then go for it!
But if, on reflection, your boss (no boss is perfect) and the job isn’t that bad, stay where you are and get even better at what you do - you don’t have to leave your job if you want to grow.
Look for other ways to move out of your comfort zone instead.
Do things that make you happy
Eat that chocolate if you want to. Stay on the sofa if you feel like it. Clean your cupboards another day.
Don’t bow to pressure, it could make you feel even more unhappy if you do.
Focus on what’s right for you.
Stop trying to please other people more than you please yourself.
You might not want to go out for a walk in that cold weather, but that brisk, fresh air really does do us good.
Rather than think about the reasons why you don’t want to go outside, think about how you’ll feel when you get back (you’ll feel refreshed, trust me).
Visualising the outcome makes it worth the effort.
Sometimes it’s the people in our circle that cause us to feel glum. Look closely at the people who you surround yourself with.
Are your friends really your friends? Are your colleagues supportive and inclusive? Are some of your family members too critical of you?
Make a judgement call - If your behaviour towards them could be better, you know you can fix that. If, however, you’re always the one making the effort, then perhaps it’s time to distance yourself from them.
No one can make you feel bad unless you allow them to.
Be the master of your moods
Stop reading about or watching bad news .There’s something, somewhere every single day that contributes to us feeling bad - and with a steady stream of it every day, that can add up to us feeling helpless and miserable. If the ‘bad news’ is something that’s within your control, take some action and help. If its not, take your focus somewhere else.
Watch /read more comedy - laughing (even smiling) increases endorphins, the body’s feel-good chemicals. It also reduces stress.
Manage the information that’s going into your head.
If you felt cheated out of having a ‘normal’ life last year, especially if you stuck to all the Covid rules and others didn’t, that frustration could still be lingering in your head.
Rather than hold onto it (you can’t control what others do), causing more negative thoughts, look at your year in a different way.
What did you achieve, or learn, or stop doing? How did you surprise yourself? What did you do that you never thought you would?
Feed your mind with some good stuff.
The rise in costs is a concern for most people so whatever you can do to manage your personal situation will help you sleep better at night.
Can you cut back on anything? Can you look for savings with anything you pay for?
The answer might well be ‘no’, if so, look for advice and support now to help ease the worry. Asking for help shows strength and it gives you a sense of control.
Listen to yourself before you listen to others
When you compare yourself to how other people are doing in life, it can be a one-way ticket to feeling like a loser.
The images projected on social media never show the full story (only the gloss and the success) so be careful how much of it you allow yourself to believe.
Give yourself some credit. What do you do well? How far have you come? How much do you value what you do and who you are?
Listen to your story - at least you know it’s real.
Be careful when taking other people’s advice about what you should be doing. They’re not the ones doing it, are they?
You know yourself better than anyone, so it’s OK to listen to other people but listen to yourself first and last before deciding anything.
Your judgement about your life is the important one. Don’t live out other people’s lives for them - Do what you want to do in the year ahead.
Health is wealth
If, as the stats tell us, we are coming to the end of Covid19, then we should consider ourselves fortunate, if we are, to be healthy.
Only when we are ill would we do anything to be healthy again and I know that there are many people who, over the course of the past two long years, would like to be in our shoes.
I’ve coached many wealthy people over the years, but despite what you might think, the one thing they often desperately need - but no amount of money can give them - is a healthy mind and body.
Never take your health for granted, look after it and hold onto it.
What are all the things you wanted to do over the past couple of years, but didn’t or couldn’t?
If you do feel low or are struggling to get going, then do yourself a catch-up list of these things. Make it easy for yourself by including some things that don’t cost money.
You don’t have to put yourself under any pressure to do them all, but they are things to look forward to in the months or years ahead - call it ‘payback’ for the time you lost.
It’s also your pick-me-up list for beating the January Blues.
Normally, we’re all glad to see the back of January - but this year and post Covid, perhaps we should be grateful that we are at least seeing January.
How we live our life now, is up to us. Whatever you choose to do, don’t hold back.
Amana Walker is a performance coach who works with a range of business leaders and sports professionals. More info at www.amanawalker.com
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