Blue Monday is nearly upon us. The first day of the third week of January has long been named the one each year when people in the UK are most likely to feel down.
Whether it’s 16th January or any other Monday, many of us have the power to decide for ourselves whether it’s blue or a different shade from the wider colour palette.
Last Monday was my first day back in the office after some much needed family connection time over the festivities. I’d been very deliberate about my meetings so that I was seeing people, and doing things that were energising. What I hadn’t expected was an act of kindness that positively fuelled me all week.
Picture the scene. The 8am team catch up has just finished and I’ve driven to a 9am rendezvous with one of my favourite clients to meet and plan our next piece of work together. As we said hello, we were lacing up our walking boots.
First meeting of my Monday – a walk and talk with an individual that gives me hugely positive energy. At the end of two hours, we said our goodbyes and both leave with extra energy for the day ahead. Good quality conversation, challenge and chit-chat meant that others got the best of me for the rest of the day. Last Monday certainly wasn’t blue for me. I have a similar plan for this Monday – doing everything I can to make it a bright shade of positive yellow with a tinge of orange.
The secret is to control what you can control on a Sunday night and Monday morning – planning and being intentional. Here’s five tips to consider as you plan next Monday (and beyond).
- Plan interactions with others that give you energy – who are the individuals that give you energy in your life; your clients, customers, colleagues, network, and how you can ensure you have a conversation, call or meeting with at least one of them on a Monday.
- Create an experience for your team – what positive experience can you plan for Monday? Maybe a fikka moment – coffee and cake as a team. Bringing in an inspiring speaker to your team meeting, Inviting a client from a different background to share their experience. A rotation of team members sharing their story (we use the pechakucha approach) each Monday. Creating an experience that people look forward to is an easy way to give positive energy. You could even share the task as a team so a different member takes on responsibility for the Monday high, each week.
- Get physical – moving around helps our mood so plan walk-and-talk meetings, an exercise class or setting an alarm clock to nudge 2 mins of stretching every two hours. I used to go to the gym on a Monday afternoon with a colleague. We’d talk in between our ‘reps’ and it was a high point of the week for me.
- Make space a non-negotiable – many people say Monday is usually ‘full’ and people finish the day exhausted. This doesn’t bode well for the remainder of the week. Create space in your diary for strategic thinking time, connection with others and reflection on a Monday. Just a 60 min sprint will help you breathe and feel more positive that you’re in control of your day.
- Give a random act of kindness – what can you do for someone that might help their mood and make Monday the best day of the week rather than a blue day? Ask a colleague what was the best thing about their weekend and truly give them your full attention as you listen to the answer. Notice someone that is struggling with something and give 10 minutes of your time to help. Find some wipes to help a colleague clean their number plate in a car park!
Many of the factors driving people to feel low on Blue Monday aren’t easy to fix. One of them is that it’s traditionally the date credit card bills from the festive period land arrive. Another is that the weather is often cold and damp. There’s a lot we can’t change but being in the best possible place to overcome the pain is within our gift.
In my book, The Culture Builders, I talk about the five roles of engaging others. One of these is the People Strategist. This is not just knowing how to engage and fuel others, but to consistently do it. Making Monday the high point of the week for yourself and others is a simple yet effective way to feel good yourself, show up more confidently at work and have a positive impact on others. It might be officially blue Monday next week but what colour will it actually be for you?