I’ve seen lots of people talking about ‘blue Monday’ and how January is a tough month. I’ve heard people talk about the grey uninspiring weather; the fact that Christmas feels like a lifetime ago and that Spring feels like a long time away! All of which maybe true – but I don’t buy into the whole ‘blue Monday’ or ‘I hate January’ thing.
I’m not saying that I don’t at times, find it tough to drag myself out of bed when it’s cold and dark, or that I miss the excitement and colour that Christmas brings….I just refuse to get myself stuck into a mindset that will predetermine how I think and feel in January, or for any month come to that. We underestimate the impact that such a fixed, more negative mindset actually has on both our physical and mental well being. It’s like a filter through which we view the world and low and behold we see lots of evidence that supports our perception. The weather IS grey and uninspiring. It IS a long time to pay day. Loads of other people find January tough. Someone somewhere has called it ‘blue Monday’ so it must be a thing! We get trapped in a downward spiral and all that happens is, we notice more of the same and start to feel worse and worse!!
What also comes with this sense of a downward spiral is a sort of ‘victim-like’ mentality where we begin to believe that we have no control or influence over what we think and how we feel. As I type this, I can feel a real sense of hopelessness and heaviness which keeps us trapped.
The good news is…just as we can set ourselves off down a very negative rabbit hole, we also have the ability to choose something different.
Our thoughts influence how we feel
Our thoughts and thinking patterns are inextricably linked to how we feel. What happens in our heads, impacts how we feel both physically and emotionally. We literally have 100’s of thousands of thoughts a day, like a mass of traffic on a busy motorway. We can choose to watch them pass, rather than hanging onto any one of them. We can make a choice not to waste time on thoughts that are unhelpful. Thoughts are not things – they are like whispers and inner voices that can take us to unhelpful, unresourceful places.
Tip #1 – Let the negative thoughts pass, watch them head off into the distance
A good friend of mine has always been brilliant at this. Well before ‘practicing gratitude’ was even a thing, she was always able to take great pleasure from simple things. She’s really good at noticing small moments of pleasure and she’s an expert at remembering to be grateful for who she is; who she has around her and how many blessings she can count.
There is a wealth of research out there that proves that being grateful makes us happier and healthier. Being grateful boosts feelings of optimism, joy, enthusiasm and has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression!! Gratitude is also good for our bodies and has been shown to improve our immune system, reduce blood pressure and help us sleep better! Amazing eh?
So it’s a no brainer. We should all be practicing gratitude. Thinking about what we can be thankful for, and the good things that come our way, rather than always looking for what we don’t have.
Tip #2 – do a daily gratitude list
Try taking a couple for minutes before you go to sleep to make a list of 3-5 things that you’re grateful for each day. What good things have happened today? What blessings do you have? What can you be truly grateful for?
Develop a gratitude attitude
Gratitude is infectious. When we practice being grateful and looking for the positive, we create an attitude of gratitude in others. When we are genuinely grateful we build better relationships, we start looking out for others and have a new found appreciation of the efforts of others. We can help to create a more grateful work place. We can show and teach our children how to appreciate what comes their way.
Tip #3 Pay it forward
Make sure to thank people for things that they do for you. Appreciate the time and effort that another person has gone to if they do something for you. Look for gratitude opportunities in your organisation. Alongside exploring areas to improve, encourage people to focus on the good things that happen, and what was good about what was done.
It takes around three weeks to create a new habit. If you could cultivate more of a grateful attitude, just imagine how you might feel? It’s worth a try?
If you would like more one to one support on this, please drop me a message. I’ll happily work with you to help you find ways to build your own gratitude attitude!!
#gilllarkin #gratitude #coaching