By Nic Marks, founder and CEO, Friday Pulse
Today is “Blue Monday” — supposedly, the most depressing day of the year. It’s a day when many of us are trying to shoulder our way through a potent mix of holiday blues, winter doldrums and job dissatisfaction, and we’re really feeling it.
Indeed, most of us are tired and burned out these days. Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report found that nearly seven in 10 people are struggling or suffering in their overall lives, and nearly 80% of people are disengaged from work. While some of this can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s also part of a growing trend. People just aren’t happy.
There isn’t strong evidence that the third Monday in January is the unhappiest day of the year, but there is always a sharp drop in happiness levels from the holiday season peak. In 2019, happiness levels dropped from 61% to 48%. The peak itself was only 49% in 2021, but by the end of last week, it was down to 41%.
How to thrive in 2022
It’s clear that people are merely surviving and not thriving amid all this continued uncertainty. Our happiness levels have been below average for more than two years now. We feel it in our daily lives, and we certainly feel it in our teams.
So, what can we do to beat Blue Monday this year and ensure 2022 is about thriving, not just surviving? Here are five things you can do to buck the trend:
Remember that you’re not alone. Reach out and connect with your coworkers and friends. Working from home and lockdown situations make us feel more isolated. Not only do we miss our friends, but we also miss out on the side interactions that help us form closer bonds with the people we work with.
To counter this, try connecting with a different colleague in some way each day. Book a Zoom chat or go for a walk-and-talk meeting, for example. Leaders can help teams collaborate on projects and have more interactions with each other. It will likely be more enjoyable and productive, and ultimately, a collaborative workplace is better for employee well-being.
Looking for strategies on how to manage a remote team effectively? Read this blog post from Robert Half.
January can be cold and miserable but make time to venture out. Even if it’s for just 30 minutes every day, going for a walk or a run outside will help you feel and work better (and for fitness-minded people, going out in the cold burns more calories than being in the warm!). If you live close enough to a coworker, consider meeting up and going for a walk.
Keep a sense of humor
You must find humor in challenging situations, or it can all become too much to bear. Laughter is like a group hug in the sense that when you hug someone, you’re sending a message that they’re a part of your family. Laughter also helps us synchronize emotions with others and helps everyone feel like they belong.
Find the joy in what you do
We all have our pandemic routine set now, but is it something that brings us happiness? For the remainder of this month — and beyond — take time to think about what has brought you joy in the past and what might bring you happiness in the future.
You may find you need to rediscover what once made you happy about your work. Or perhaps, you’ll want to take up an old hobby again. Set yourself a new goal to learn something new. The challenge of discovery will make you feel more confident and inject some fun into your routine.
Employees who feel appreciated at work are likely to find more satisfaction in their job. See this post from Robert Half for 10 employee recognition tips for managers.
Put the brakes on a bad habit
Don’t underestimate the power of the new year — it provides a clean slate and is the perfect time to disrupt bad habits. It’s a natural reflective period that can give you extra motivation to transform yourself.
Take the path to a happier 2022
Happiness is a habit, and it takes consistent effort to be happier. Just doing one of these things once won’t cut it. But even if you only pick one of these tips and do it repeatedly, you will see results and avoid the blues on both Blue Monday and beyond.
About Nic Marks
Nic Marks, Founder and CEO of Friday Pulse, is one of the United Kingdom’s top happiness experts and statisticians. He has worked extensively in public policy and with many governments advising on how to measure and improve well-being. In 2010, Nic gave a popular TED Talk on his policy work.
Nic has worked with over 1,000 teams and organizations looking into the ingredients of good work and positive workplace cultures. In 2021, Nic created FridayOne — an individual Happiness Test — helping individuals reflect on how happy they are at work. This five-minute test provides a personalized report packed with insights and tips. Take the test today: www.fridayone.com.