Researchers have coined the third Monday of January as Blue Monday – the most depressing day of the year. They have attributed this to a mixture of the grey, cold weather, a lack of funds with being paid early for Christmas making January pay day feel very, very far away, so some of us may end up with post-Christmas debt and a general lack of motivation.

Let’s be honest – January does tend to have a heaviness about it with the dark mornings and early dusks. The tired energy just doesn’t seem to shift.

Initially, I thought perhaps it was just me but I’ve run a number of workshops over the past few weeks and while they are usually abundant with energy, they have all begun quite flat. There’s been a genuine feeling of exhaustion in the room.

Have you too been feeling like this?

  • Tired
  • Low mood
  • Low energy
  • Wanting to find a bed as soon as you get to work?

How can you shift the mood and bring that leadership spark back?

1) Acceptance

I think the most important step is to be kind to yourself – acknowledge this is natural and you are not alone in this feeling! Give yourself permission to feel sluggish and go with it – let yourself off the hook. The longer you resist and ignore how you are feeling, the harder it will be to shake it off and move forward.

 2) Living not existing

When we are hit with feelings like this, it is important to remind ourselves why we’re on this little planet of ours so make sure you are doing things that make you feel alive! This is both at home and at work. Of course, we all have to ensure the mundane tasks are done but carve out some time to work on that special project that fires you up!

3) Work-life balance

A common side effect of feeling sluggish and tired is a reduction in productivity and with that usually comes guilt, which can drive us to work longer hours in a vain attempt to catch up. Unfortunately, the most common result of this behaviour is time wasted. Those extra hours you plough through while in this mood are rarely productive – in fact, it tends to be counter-productive. Be honest with yourself – you’re probably no good staying on anyway! By leaving on time and spending the evening doing something you enjoy, you’ll probably be much more refreshed the next day.

4) Be realistic

So we’re going to allow ourselves to accept that we’re not on top form and leave work on time to do something that makes us feel alive. But how do we combat the guilt of the ever-growing to-do list? Make sure it is a realistic list that takes the above into account from the start. We all get satisfaction out of leaving work feeling we have accomplished all we set out to – don’t add to your own frustration by planning more than you can complete. Break things down into manageable chunks and be realistic with your time.

5) Make it a team activity

As we’ve discussed, you’re not alone in this struggle to get through January so talk openly about it with your team. Just because you’re a leader does not mean you can’t be human too! Share your feelings and find out how your team are affected by the January blues. This will build empathy in the team – a very important leadership trait! You can also brainstorm ideas as a team that will help lift the mood and ensure the work gets done – with a smile!

6) Be healthy

I’m sure your gut instinct is to comfort eat in front of the TV…believe me, I get that! Eating healthily and doing exercise can be the best ways to combat low moods. Research suggests 55% of our happiness is a direct result of the food and drink we consume! That’s an amazing statistic – and goes to explaining why we all return from days of feasting during the Christmas break lacking energy! So commit to giving yourself a nutritional boost with energy-crammed smoothies, hearty soups and colourful salads.

7) Be your own leader

Have you ever analysed the conversations in your head – you know the sort, constantly nagging yourself about one thing or another, maybe telling yourself to pull your socks up and get on with it?! Bring awareness to this voice (your inner critic) and when you can hear that inner critic ask yourself, ‘Would you talk to your staff that way you talk to yourself?’. So, why are we so hard on ourselves? Is it motivational?

One of my clients made a fantastic suggestion – split yourself in half. One half of you is the motivational, encouraging, supportive leader and the other half is you as an employee – you now have the opportunity to change the dialogue and address how you are feeling. Yes, I am inviting you to talk to yourself…commonly deemed as the first sign of madness. Or is it really the first sign of madness not to talk to ourselves? – These voices are already in our heads so we may as make them useful ones them useful.

Give these tips a go and use this experience to sharpen your leadership. Reflect, rejuvenate and reenergise yourself and get ready to make 2016 a great year!