14 January 2018
Whether you believe it or not, tomorrow is now regarded as the day in the year that most people are at their lowest point. If you dig a bit deeper as one of the journalists in my communications team did, Blue Monday as it’s now known, was the brain child of a PR firm who invented the concept to help sell flights for a client.
Rightly or wrongly it stuck. Blue Monday is now a time when people focus on cheering others up.
So, if you have the Monday morning blues and you are struggling to get motivated back from the Christmas holiday break, what’s the best way to cheer yourself up?
My 10 Top Tips For Blue Monday
1. Talk about it
Remember the saying, “A problem shared is a problem halved?”
My first piece of advice is around sharing. If you have something on your mind. However hard it may seem to talk with someone about it, you must. It is not healthy to take on life’s burdens on your own. However small or inconsequential, issues grow and fester. You can’t brush them under carpet. Whilst facing them head on is inevitable, doing so with the advice of a friend or colleague certainly helps. If nothing else, you get opinions other than your own to consider. I have learned that people less connected to something that is consuming you, are often better at offering advice. They are one step removed and less emotionally caught up.
Whatever you choose to do, do it now. Don’t hang around. Time is precious and once you have got whatever it is off your chest and behind you, you are able to concentrate on the things that matter.
2. Look Outward not Inward
I heard a great piece of advice on public speaking where a friend of mine who works with Tony Robbins explained the reason people get nervous with public speaking is because they are looking inward at their own feelings. These negative feelings are then magnified and can be incredibly damaging.
Focus outwards and thinking more about the audience and their needs, maybe consider who is in the audience and how can you use them to help others relate to what you are taking about. Whatever you choose to do, the focus is no longer on your own personal feelings.
I believe you can apply this strategy to most things in life. When you are feeling down, the exact same thing applies. It’s because you are focussing on your own feelings. Instead, distract yourself; do some exercise, set a new challenge, go for a walk, whatever it takes to shift your focus.
3. Be Grateful
Tony Robbins talks about “changing your state.” It sounds easier said than done. When you are feeling down, its impossible to flick a magic switch. No matter how sad you may be, it’s worth remembering there are many others out there in the world, considerably less fortunate than yourself.
I was reminded this week by a friend who visited UKFast about the large volumes of children who don’t have proper care in Greater Manchester. The numbers are staggering and I can’t imagine what the total number is for the whole of the UK. When you find bigger problems out there than your own and choose to help others, it removes the pressure of your own feelings and, in my experience, starts to make you feel a great deal better.
4. Time to yourself
How much time are you getting to yourself? This is crucial. If you are a busy single parent working all hours or an entrepreneur starting out, finding time is hard but it’s absolutely essential. Lets face it, we all probably work a little too hard. If you are like me and this resonates with you, do make sure you schedule time in every day to sit and reflect and somehow switch off.
It maybe you read a book, write a blog, cook a meal, paint a picture.
This afternoon our house was so noisy with my daughters running riot, I rang a friend from work and met up in the recording studio at UKFast and we laid down a track together for the video team to use later in the week. Getting lost in music is as important as exploring new places.
The saying healthy body healthy mind is an important one. However busy you are this is just as important as the time for yourself and actually can be combined to kill two birds with the same stone.
By ensuring you get an hour a day in the gym, running doing weights or some sort of exercise, it is often great thinking time and gets you away from the day-to-day monotony and stresses.
I love squash for this. It’s an hour in a contained box where my entire focus is on hunting down a tiny ball. There is no room for distraction and this combined with the physical benefits are an important part of my personal formula.
6. Change your environment to change your mood
Your environment will reinforce your feelings. If you are cold and wet, on your own, in the pouring rain you may be excused for feeling a little blue. Quite easy in a rainy city like Manchester!
By changing your location to somewhere warm and cosy, drying off, having a hot bath and listening to some great music, it’s very easy to change your state and boost your spirit.
In the same way, if you have split up from a relationship and you are down, replaying a sad song over and over again, is not going to help! If you stick on a fun, party tune, ring a friend and choose to draw a line in the sand and move on, the result can only be a better one. I appreciate this is easier said than done, but at some point you have to take the plunge.
7. Acts of kindness
The most motivating way for me personally to retain my spring in my step or cheer myself up if I was down is by helping others. It’s not just that it makes you feel good, it also gives you a sense of responsibility that this is something you should do, again and again. It’s a good habit to get into.
Doing acts of kindness is infectious and also makes others around you follow suit. They can be small to start with, but just by helping others, you immediately get feedback. It may be a simple smile or a thank you, but they are priceless and highly motivating.
8. Be the best version of yourself possible
Whatever level you are at in life, ask yourself the question: “What do I have to do to improve and make myself a better person?”
I have numerous personal goals to improve at being a dad, businessman, husband, leader, listener, the list is endless. By having positive things to aim at, you are less likely to get bogged down with the past or the here and now.
9. Look for the good in others
Never criticise others. It’s as simple as that. People don’t need reminding when they have done something wrong, plus negativity is infectious and incredibly dangerous.
However down in the dumps you may be, it doesn’t help one bit to blame others for the way you may feel.
No one is perfect, least of all ourselves, so make sure you look for the good in others.
10. Focus on the Future
Tomorrow is another day. However tough life is, try and prepare yourself from the moment you wake up in the morning.
I leave my sports kit out the night before and have every hour of my day mapped out often weeks in advance. It not only keeps me on track, it also gives me a purpose and a rhythm to the day and it doesn’t give me any time to get distracted with anything else.
If you are feeling down, remember it’s a moment in time. It’s not forever and the feelings can pass as quickly as they came.
Paint a picture in your head of the life and world you want. Write yourself lists and don’t be afraid to dream of better times.
They will come.
It doesn’t seem that long ago that I arrived in Salford without a penny to my name struggling to make ends meet. Get your head down into a project and invest time into making friends and helping others and you won’t go far wrong.
Best of luck and have a Happy Monday not a blue one!