Tips to Avoid The January Blues While Working From Home

13th January 2021

After an extended break or festive period, like Christmas, getting back into the swing of work can prove challenging, both physically and mentally, for most people.

Particularly at Christmas, when our daily routine can become utterly disjointed.

Healthy eating, sleeping and exercising habits can easily be neglected during the festive season, all of which can impact our wellbeing, mood and mental health.

January can also feel like a bleak time of year due to the combination of poor weather, Christmas bills, and an imminent return to work.

It has even been claimed that the most depressing day of the year falls on the third Monday of January, Blue Monday.

Reconnect with your team

Getting used to early starts, dealing with clients and colleagues again, and planning for the work year ahead can leave people feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.

And, with the Government’s recent announcement of a tougher lockdown, these typical post-Christmas January Blues are likely to be exacerbated this year.

Even when everything is ideal, it can still be tough to get back into a work routine, especially when working from home.

If your home is also your office, there are not the typical visual or mental cues that can help you shift to a working mindset.

Sometimes, the physical act of getting back to the office, seeing and interacting with your colleagues can be the boost you need to get motivated for the year ahead.

So, to help ease this transition, we have put together our top tips for beating the January Blues while working from home.

Reevaluate, refresh and streamline your workspace

The role of environment in your wellbeing, mood and productivity cannot be downplayed. So, the first thing you should consider is your workspace.

A great first step is to wipe down all your surfaces and give your space a good clean. Once everything is spic and span, it’s time to embrace your inner minimalist and possibly invest in some proper storage.

Clutter has been found to trigger the stress hormone cortisol and to distract the brain with stimuli, which is not great if you’re trying to get focused.

Sort through the items in your space and decide whether they add or detract from your environment. Not only will this look much better, it will also feel better and it’s a quick easy win to tick off your to-do list.

So, put away those stray pens, sort through old post-it notes and remove anything that, in the words of tidying up expert Marie Kondon, “doesn’t spark joy”.

Ensure you’re getting enough ‘good’ light

Studies have shown that light can have a visual, biological and psychological effect on people and can impact a person’s overall health and wellbeing.

Intensity, saturation and hue all play a role in how light effects us.

When the light is just right, it can boost our mood, relax us and even improve our cognitive performance.

While poor lighting is associated with eye strain, headaches, fatigue, stress and anxiety.

So, it’s worth taking a few minutes to assess the lighting situation and to optimise your environment, after all, every little helps when it comes to your wellbeing.

Of course, natural bright sunlight is ideal, as it increases our serotonin levels, making us feel calmer, focused, and happier.

Simply moving your desk closer to a window or onto a second floor can help you to capture as much natural light as possible.

However, since we cannot control the weather, it could be worth investing in a SAD lamp (seasonal associative disorder), which can help trigger the same response as natural light.

Practise self-compassion

This is possibly the most important point, be kind to yourself. While it has become an overused cliche, we are actually living in unprecedented times.

With schools closed, strict social distancing rules in place, and the continued stress of the pandemic, it’s only normal you might be feeling the January Blues more keenly.

Make peace with your inner critic, doing this will reduce the amount of energy you expend on negative thought patterns.

Accept that you don’t have to always be perfect and that it’s ok to ease yourself back into your workflow.

This softer more positive approach tends to yield better results when it comes to mood, productivity and overall wellbeing.

Try to be present in the moment without judgement or labelling, and don’t punish yourself for not being back on top form immediately.

As part of this self-kindness make sure you have adequate breaks. Step away from your computer, put your phone down and go do something that is good for your body and mind.

This could be having a cup of tea, a brisk 10 minute walk outside, or just having a quiet moment to yourself.

We hope that these tips help you beat the January Blues!

 

If you enjoyed this topic, be sure to check out our articles on The Importance of Psychological Safety in the Workplace and How to Prevent Employee Burnout.

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