As the festive season fades away and the new year kicks in, many of us find ourselves grappling with the notorious "January blues”. Returning to work after a break can be challenging, with the combination of cold weather, early dark evenings, extra padding (around our waist-line) and the realisation that our next holiday is months away. However, fear not! Here are 8 ways to beat the January blues and make 2024 your happy new year.
We say forget the long list of New Year’s resolutions and just set one goal from any part of your life (relationship/home/family/health/money/job/leisure). Why keep repeating the same resolutions every year and not achieve any. I can’t tell you how many times we have written the same resolutions each year; get fitter, lose weight, earn more, read more, change job/relationships/children!
By choosing just one, perhaps you have more of a chance of achieving it? We think so. Break the goal down to lots of mini manageable tasks or changes of behaviour. This not only makes the goal less daunting but also provides a sense of accomplishment as you check off the small, completed tasks.
Keep a digital record of these which will be helpful when it comes to reviewing it and review regularly, perhaps weekly and feel accountable by sharing your progress with someone else. Own it.
Perhaps your goal for 2024 is to secure your dream role? Funnily enough, we can help with that and this is worth a read. Let’s start breaking this goal down into mini steps... update my CV, get in touch with The Works Search, make a list of the well-connected people in my network who may help me etc.
Clutter and mess around your working area can negatively affect your mood. Whether your workspace is in the office or at home, tidying your desk and getting rid of unnecessary items can be a good strategy for beating January blues. Have you looked through your filing system recently? Do you really need to keep invoices, receipts, insurance policies from 10 years ago? Probably not. Open up the drawers and start shredding. A big sort out makes you feel in control, cleansed and horribly organised.
If your desk is already neat and tidy (we are impressed) you might like to think about refreshing the space. Why not add a beautiful orchid to your desk for some colour or an inspiring photo? Plants improve air quality, increase attention span, improve creativity, lower stress and can stabilise your mood. Photos can make you smile.
Cold weather and dark mornings can make it tempting to stay bundled up indoors. Combat the January blues by prioritising your physical well-being. We know that it’s not easy to shed the ‘winter padding’ sitting around your waist especially when it’s cold and we are craving carbs and comforting food. However, by doing some physical activity every day (even if it’s just a walk around the block each lunchtime), stay hydrated, and maintain a balanced diet. A healthy body contributes to a healthy mind meaning you’ll feel much more alert and energised at work.
Create an atmosphere of positivity and collaboration within the workplace. Organise team-building activities with your colleagues, celebrate achievements, and encourage open communication. A supportive work environment enhances job satisfaction and helps employees overcome the post-holiday slump, especially in the dreary month of January! If you mainly work remotely, consider organising a virtual book club (or similar) to replicate a sense of togetherness; crucial in helping us feel connected to a wider group, as well as supported and seen.
Consider your flexible working arrangements, such as remote work or flexible hours. Speak to your employer if you need to adjust your current working pattern to accommodate the challenges that January may bring. Companies who provide employees with a sense of control over their schedules undoubtedly help to alleviate stress levels and improve overall well-being.
January blues can take a toll on your mental health. Be open with your manager about your mental well-being; a good employer should ensure that staff are aware of all available resources such as employee assistance programmes or counselling services. Open conversations about mental health will promote a stigma-free environment where seeking help is viewed as a proactive step towards personal and professional growth. Check in with your colleagues to see if they’re doing OK, too.
Shake up the monotony by considering a new project or challenge. The excitement of learning something new or taking on a fresh task will reinvigorate you for the year ahead. You might also want to consider taking a course or qualification to further your personal development and now is a great time to discuss your plans with your manager.
Focus on a healthy work-life balance to prevent burnout. Don’t start the new year on the back foot with old bad habits – it’s so easy to get sucked into apparent urgency. Make sure you drink a glass of water regularly, stretch and stop looking at your screen without blinking! Take regular breaks, book your annual leave so you have breaks to look forward to and, when you can, unplug from work during non-working hours. Starting the year well-rested and rejuvenated means you will be much more likely to face any challenges with resilience and enthusiasm.
Conquering the January blues at work is achievable with a combination of realistic goal-setting, a focus on well-being, and a positive work culture. By implementing these strategies you can transform the post-holiday slump into an opportunity for growth, collaboration, and increased job satisfaction. Returning to work feeling fully rested and motivated is the key to overcoming the January blues and setting the tone for a successful and fulfilling year ahead.
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