This post was contributed by Dr Amy Harrison, PhD, DClinPsy. Dr Harisson is a Clinical Psychologist and teaches Positive Psychology as an Associate Lecturer. Her clinical work focuses on helping young people with eating disorders and her research focuses on how people manage emotions and experience pleasure from social interaction.
‘Blue Monday’ – the third Monday in January (today) – has been reported as one of the grimmest days of the year. Although there may be no hard science behind this assertion, it’s easy to understand why it’s developed this reputation. The merriment of Christmas has long since faded but the mountains of credit card debt remain as we struggle through to payday; New Year Resolutions have fallen by the wayside; and the next Bank Holiday feels an aeon away.
However, there are ways that you can tackle these ‘blue’ feelings.
It’s important to remember that it’s not what happens to you, but what you make of it that is important. Research from the field of positive psychology, which aims to understand the science of happiness and wellbeing, suggests that there are things we can all do to manage the daily grind with greater ease.
My tips include:
- Make an effort to look out for positive things during the day – we can train ourselves to notice more of the good stuff, no matter how small.
- Do something for others – give up your seat on the train, feed a parking meter or smile at a stranger. You’ll be surprised at how warm this makes you feel.
- Count your blessings – write about something you’re grateful for, or thank someone for helping you.
- Look at a picture of your favourite person, experience or animal – research has shown that this can significantly improve your mood.
Many people might be surprised to hear that these small actions can have such a positive impact on mood. However, it’s worth a go – one thing that can be guaranteed is that if you don’t try anything different, things will stay the same.