Every third Monday of the new calendar year is known by another, slightly more infamous name: Blue Monday, or the most depressing day of the year. Appropriately, January seems like it’s been stretching out for a couple of years now, so you may have not noticed, but Blue Monday is today!
Blue Monday was coined based on a pop-science equation that measured the weather, levels of debt after the holidays, and the time that’s passed since Christmas and New Year’s resolutions. When we’re feeling cold, demotivated and potentially broke, it’s no wonder why this day is particularly depressing. As a matter of fact, January as a whole is a stressful month: CharlieHR found that sick leave was 53% higher in January than the rest of the year due to the cold snap causing colds, coughs and flu in addition to mental health issues.
As businesses leaders, you want to make sure your employees are feeling supported and loved, especially during this time of year. This will not only help with Blue Monday, but set the tone for the rest of the year! We came up with a few ideas for initiatives that will help to improve your employees’ mental health, increase engagement and make them feel as loved as they are.
1. Reflect on last year’s successes
Part of the reason why Blue Monday is so depressing is that it’s right after Christmas and the New Year. Your employees stopped being excited about the end of the year and the beginning of a new one, and the reality of going back into their normal routine is sinking.
That’s why this is the perfect time to look back and reflect on your business’s successes and see how far you and your people have come in the last 12 months. These good New Year vibes will help your team look forward to the future and what they can achieve in the 12 months to come.
At yulife, we do this every Monday. Our Founder and CEO, Sammy Rubin, gathers everyone in the company around to reflect on the previous week and set some philosophical and spiritual goals for the following week. We believe this helps focus our efforts and inspire us - and when’s better to do that than the most depressing day of the year?
2. Encourage charity work
We know that volunteering helps our mental (and also physical) health - it generally makes us feel better. So why not use this day, that usually comes hand-in-hand with low productivity and motivation, and make something good out of it?
You can set up a volunteering day with a charity of your choosing, or even host a fundraising event or a charity sale. If you have yulife, you can encourage your employees to redeem their yucoin with For Good Causes and in effect donate their steps to a charity. Not only will this make a difference in the world, but also improve your employees’ day.
3. Endorse team building
Team bonding is important any day of the year, but especially when the mood is down. By encouraging friendly chats with drinks or activities, your employees will get to know each other better and use the power of socialising to relieve some of the Blue Monday lull.
4. Allow some room for error
Not everyone is the same, and there isn’t a silver bullet that fixes everything for everyone. Some people are hit harder than others by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), or have a specific mental health issue that might make Blue Monday tougher. The most important thing is to be attentive and respectful towards your employees’ individual issues, and maybe give them some extra room for breaks, working from home on the day or just show them it’s okay to take it slow.
5. Organise a lunchtime walk
Exercise releases endorphins, which in turn make us feel better. Even a 10-minute walk can improve your employees’ mental health! A quick, company-wide lunchtime walk can really get people going and motivate them for the rest of the day. Another option is to just encourage walks during the day.
6. Take your team out to lunch
Two of the main factors of Blue Monday are financial stress and feeling like those New Year’s resolutions are slipping away. By inviting your team out to a healthy lunch (or get a food delivery to your office), you can help relieve both of these issues and show your team how grateful you are that they’re working for you.
7. Be aware of the ambience
As much as we’re trying our best to make our offices amazing, the truth is that most people find office life a bit boring, dull and grey, which doesn’t help the already depressing vibes of Blue Monday. Try playing happy music, maybe add some warm lights, and make sure your office environment is as welcoming as possible.
8. Care for your people beyond Blue Monday
Although Blue Monday is a specific day, your employees need your support and awareness about their mental health every day of the year. Invest in mental health inclusive practices like flexible working, and consider purchasing benefits that will encourage both mental and physical health.
For example, with yulife, your employees will get life insurance, as well as the yulife app which earns them rewards for healthy activities such as walking and meditating. That way, you can motivate them and reward them all year round - and not just when their mental health is at its worst.
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