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Blue Monday

The third Monday in January is known as ‘Blue Monday’ - supposedly the most depressing day of the year when the financial pressure of Christmas just passed hangs over us most, the weather is at its worst, and the extra pounds we’ve acquired over the holiday season are proving harder to shift than we anticipated.

Spoiler alert: it isn’t! There is no scientific proof to back this! However, why not use it as a reminder to make sure we are focusing on our mental and physical well-being - both in and out of work hours?

Small businesses and those who are self-employed, face unique challenges and, as small and medium organisations account for 99% of the businesses in the UK, it’s important to make sure you are taking care of yourself. We have come up with some ways you can do this as follows:

Keep Talking!

As the old adage goes, ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’. 

Despite the stigma that’s still attached to mental well-being, we know you can only overcome this by openly talking about it with your friends, family, co-workers, GP, or your network. Voicing your own, or someone else's, concerns or worries can greatly help to protect your well-being.

We know this can be difficult or uncomfortable, but here at SiGNAL, we pride ourselves on being an inclusive community of like-minded people. If something is worrying you or impacting your work, suggest grabbing a coffee or going for a walk with someone here. This will give you an opportunity to convey your worry with someone you can trust.

If you feel you need it, there is also plenty of professional help available to you. Take a look at Mind’s “Mental Health at work”, which has some great resources. 

Set boundaries

It’s easy to work long hours when you are keen for your business to grow. As tricky as it may feel, it’s important to set boundaries for yourself and take some time away from work and your screen throughout the day. Set yourself reminders and make a conscious effort to take a breather every hour, even if this is only a leg stretch around the office. Not only do these small breaks help with eye strain and muscle aches, but they can also increase the flow of ideas, leaving you fresh to continue when you return to your workspace.

Longer breaks are equally as important. Taking a few days or a week’s leave to switch off from work mode will leave you feeling rested, relaxed and resilient. Time off helps with productivity; increasing your motivation and energy for the work when you return. So set that out of office and focus on you. 

Get quality sleep

Stress and sleep can create a vicious cycle. When we’re stressed, we don’t sleep as well, and when we’re tired, we are more prone to stress.

Poor sleep quality could also affect your work. A poor night’s sleep may lead to a lack of focus the next day and if you are regularly not getting enough sleep then you may experience ‘brain fog’, making it difficult to concentrate or make decisions.

If you’re struggling with your sleep, check out this blog on the best 14 sleep apps

Get outdoors

Regular time spent outside helps to boost your mood and energy which, in turn, improves your focus. The internet, smartphones, and social media place a huge and constant demand on your attention. When you spend time outdoors, this provides you with time for effortless reflection.

If you’re fortunate enough to be within walking or cycling distance of where you work or where your next meeting is, then take that opportunity. Not only is travelling by bicycle or on your own two feet better for the environment, but it will also mean you’re less stressed and in a far greater mood when you arrive at your destination. 

If you can’t get outdoors, then time spent inside at a gym, swimming pool, or at a fitness class will also positively contribute to both your physical and mental well-being. You get a rush of dopamine after a great workout!

We know that sometimes when you work for yourself it can be tricky to take a break and often it can be hard to focus on well-being. We encourage you to not only think about this on ‘Blue Monday’, but to incorporate it into your everyday work life.

You are your business’ best resource, so look after you!