5 Powerful Ways to Support your People this Blue Monday
Today is ‘Blue Monday’ in the UK, and since the day was ‘established’ in 2005, it is officially the Bluest Monday in Blue Monday history. (We need not support that statement; the word ‘pandemic’ is enough).
The History of Blue Monday
Blue Monday was coined in 2005 by Dr Cliff Arnall who conducted academic research to pinpoint the most ‘depressing’ day for people in the UK – predominantly driven by the post-Christmas blues, cold weather and grey skies, waiting for pay-day and the breaking of New Year’s resolutions.
Blue Monday 2021
But of course, this year Blue Monday takes on a whole new meaning and significance.
All of the above are weighing heavy on people in addition to the anxieties attached to the Covid-19 pandemic. The depressive feelings the ‘original’ Blue Monday referred to were predominantly feelings most people could endure on their own without much support, but now coupled with serious emotions (anxiety, fear, loss, loneliness, depression etc) spurred on by the pandemic, it’s a seriously worrying time.
Whether there’s any ‘truth’ to the Blue Monday phenomenon or not, we all have a responsibility to at least be empathetic towards the people around us during this time. And even better, be supportive and help in any way we can.
Leaders, especially, have a responsibility to support their people during this time, not only because negative employee feelings affect organisations when it comes to culture, productivity, performance and many more important areas, but also because many people do not have any other leadership presence in their life, but at work. Leaders now also have a social responsibility to use their skill and people-centric attributes to help those around them for societies’ benefit too. We all need to help and support one another, and in light of that, here are five powerful ways to support your people this Blue Monday.
5 Powerful Ways to Support your People this Blue Monday
1. Help your people make sense of their feelings
Many people struggle to understand their feelings, nevermind express them. This can be for many reasons: they’ve never felt such feelings before (which is very common now); they’re not emotionally attuned or aware, they’re feeling so many emotions at once that they cannot pinpoint the emotions that are dominant to them etc. This alone causes anxiety for people because they can begin to feel helpless and hopeless – it’s like being stuck in a dark hole with no way out. Which, ofcourse, leads to more severe feelings like depression. Helping your people make sense of their feelings whether it’s by asking them (e.g one-on-one therapy) or by having them answer professionally curated questions to help them think about and make sense of how they feel, is highly effective. In fact, this should be a priority for leaders who are serious about supporting their people in the best way they can.
2. Offer one-to-one emotional support
One-to-one emotional support with a trained counsellor or therapist is something organisation’s should consider during this time. If your organisation hasn’t, or cannot appoint someone, then provide a helpline that employees can reach out to. Employees need to talk and you should encourage them in any way you can, to express themselves and chat with a professional if feelings become too overwhelming. Not only does this help the employee and promote wellbeing, but it also helps the organisation too. During times as sensitive as these and with employees feeling so many dominant negative emotions, there are so many areas at risk: culture, productivity, performance, profit – all areas the organisation needs to be able to rely on to see through crisis.
3. Ask your people how they feeling and what they need from you
As you’ve probably gathered, communication is of utmost importance when it comes to effectively supporting your people through Blue Monday – and any time really. Now, even though leaders want to help, they cannot assume they know what their people need – they need to find this out from their people. Employee needs change from person to person and business to business so it’s not enough to find out what other HR leaders are doing. There will always be dominant emotions amongst your people and finding out what these are will help you to make better decisions and provide the best support. You can discover these using surveys. We have a host of surveys from employee engagement to wellbeing as well as personalised surveys to help you uncover and address needs central to your organisation and its people.
4. Schedule a ‘self-care’ hour in people’s calendars
Today, demonstrate your care and empathy towards your people by giving them an extra hour (over and above their lunch time) to take time for themselves. Promote self-care and wellbeing – whether it be encouraging them to go for a walk, meditate, journal, or simply take time out for themselves to do whatever their heart desires. The aim of this should be to encourage a wellbeing ‘regime’ that they can implement into their daily lives and to stress the importance of investing in their own wellbeing.
5. Encourage kindness amongst teams and colleagues
When people are feeling down they often take their feelings out on the people around them – sometimes it’s their colleagues who they spend most of their day with. To ensure your people are more self-aware in this regard, encourage them to show kindness towards one another, and emphasise the struggles they, and their colleagues are enduring over this time. Perhaps even get your people to send ‘kindness’ notes to one another (it can even be anonymous), complementing them or recognising their hard work or help. A note as positive as this will really lift people’s spirits while making everyone more aware of their actions and behaviours towards others.