Going back to work after a long break at any time in the year can often trigger low moods in workers. It doesn’t help that this time of year is often cold and dark, making getting up and going to work harder for many. This is often referred to as the “January Blues” or the “New Year Slump”.
To help those struggling with going back to work this month, Best Apprenticeships has teamed up with clinical psychologist Dr Joanne Porter, who has used her 23 years of clinical experience to share seven tips on how to handle the January blues when you’re heading back to work.
Dr Joanne Porter shares exclusively with Best Apprenticeships:
“January blues (low mood, lack of energy, and lack of motivation) are experienced by many people and tend to last a few weeks following December celebrations. Lots of factors can underlie these feelings, including financial strain, shorter periods of daylight, overcast and rainy days, and the impact of calorie and alcohol intake over the Christmas period. Returning to work after the celebrations can feel especially difficult.
“You probably can’t ‘beat’ the January blues, but recognising that they are there and ‘normal’ can help you work with them.
“Be kind to yourself. You aren’t going to be in top form in the first minute of the first day back at work. Make an intention to be present on the first day. Allow yourself time to pick up the threads you gradually dropped in the lead up to the Christmas break.
“Nutrition and activity are known predictors of positive mental well-being, so keep active and gradually increase your intake of fruit and vegetables.
“Get as much light as you can. Open that window and let the air get to your face for 10–20 minutes every day.
“Poor sleep negatively affects mood. Good sleep positively impacts mood, so make sure you are getting enough sleep.
“Negative thinking can make people feel low. Record three good things at the end of each day to balance out any negative thoughts you have about yourself or your situation (e.g., not being at your best or having to leave the celebrations behind).
“Remind yourself where you were, e.g., when you started in your role or in January 2023, and note where you have gotten to. Then, set small goals for the next few weeks or months for yourself and your work.
“Evidence shows that having something to look forward to can also increase well-being, so start planning your next fun thing.”