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Experts Share Workplace Well-Being Tips to Beat “Blue Monday” This January

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The third Monday in January (15th), also known as “Blue Monday”, is considered to be the saddest day of the year, with many individuals feeling demotivated after the high energy Christmas period and many finding it difficult to get back into the swing of their working routine.

Workplace solutions company Officeology exclusively interviewed BACP registered counsellor, Georgina Sturmer on ways employees can take care of their well-being while returning to work:

Maintain healthy boundaries between work time and home time

“When work starts spilling over into your home life, it can become very overwhelming and stressful, especially if you don’t establish a boundary. It can often begin with answering the occasional urgent email, and then the next minute, you can find yourself fixated on your work laptop. This can affect your emotional well-being, as doing this won’t allow time for you to decompress away from work.

“To tackle this, set yourself boundaries on when you’re going to read and respond to work-related messages, and think about the emotional boundaries you might need to have in place too. If you find yourself in an endless cycle of work-related stress and worry, think about how you can distance yourself from these stresses when you’re at home, such as by turning your work notifications off after you leave the office or using two different devices – one strictly for personal use and the other for work-related matters.”

Book time off throughout the year to have something to look forward to

“Research has shown that many employees don’t take their full allocation of annual leave, yet taking a break is important for our physical and emotional well-being. It’s not just during the holiday, but the feeling that you have a holiday booked in your diary can really help uplift your spirits, as you know you have something to look forward to. Annual leave is also good to take from a career perspective, as when you are well rested, you are more likely to feel rejuvenated, which in turn will lead you to feel much more positive, creative, and productive.”

Take some time to take yourself away from the screen and get outside

“It’s tempting to stay indoors all day, especially when the skies are grey and it’s raining outside. But this is exactly when we need to get outside the most. Stepping outside, stretching our bodies, scanning the horizon, and breathing in fresh air are all things that can actually calm your nervous system down and help reduce stress levels.”

 Learn how to say “no”

“When coming back to work, especially after a long period of time, it can be quite the challenge trying to pick up things where you left them and juggling different tasks at once. If you do find that you’re overloaded with tasks and struggling to keep up, don’t be afraid to voice that you may need some extra support or even training on tools you find hard to navigate.

“But perhaps you’re also taking on too much, particularly if you have a tendency to be a ‘people pleaser’. This is a one-way ticket to stress and overwhelm, but it can be a hard habit to break.  For many of us, it’s a deeply ingrained behaviour. Practice saying ’no’ when small tasks come up or things that are unrealistic to complete with your workload. It might feel uncomfortable, but you’re doing yourself a favour, and you might be offering someone else an opportunity to take on a new project too.”

Be proactive about your own development

“When you’ve been doing your job for a while, it can feel relaxing to go into autopilot or think about ‘quiet quitting’, but we all need a sense of purpose and progression to help ourselves feel fulfilled. Challenge yourself to seek out opportunities to develop your skills and learn something new. Seeking opportunities for professional growth not only enriches your knowledge but can also lead to increased engagement and a sense of purpose in your work. Keep your skills sharp, and your career trajectory will be fulfilling.”

So, what can businesses do to further support employee well-being?

Adam Butler, workplace solutions expert and CEO at Officeology, has shared what businesses can put in place to support their employees during this period:

“Getting back into the swing of things after the Christmas period can be a challenge, but there are many things businesses can do to support their employees throughout this time to make this transition as smooth as possible. The start of the year is the perfect time to check in with your employees and discuss career milestones they want to achieve throughout the year, as this is one of the many ways you make your employees feel supported and can further reinforce a positive mindset to kick off the year.

“Another thing businesses can do is encourage their employees to take time away from their screens. This could be simply done by setting fitness challenges among employees to see who can do the most steps in the month, which can encourage your team to bond by spurring each other on and can be implemented for businesses that are remote as well as in the office.

“For those who regularly go to the office, a great way to encourage employees to take time from their desks is to appoint a member of the team to take 15–20 minutes out of their week to research things that are going on nearby near the office, so employees have the option to attend if they want to do something different during their break. When you are physically and mentally refreshed, you are much more likely to be productive.

“Lastly, if you haven’t already, it’s a great time to relook at your employee rewards programme and see what employee well-being benefits you have and whether they need to be changed. Take the time to ask your employees, whether that’s a company-wide questionnaire or discussed in their 1-to-1’s, to see if they find the programme beneficial and what they would like to see moving forward. Creating a culture that not only talks about well-being but also puts initiatives in place to support it can encourage employees to prioritise their own well-being and a healthy work-life balance.”

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