Advance Performance | Tips to boost your positive thinking and beat the January blues!
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Tips to boost your positive thinking and beat the January blues!

Tips to boost your positive thinking and beat the January blues!

The January blues only exist if you allow them to!

Last Monday, 15th January, was “officially” the most depressive day of 2018 – it said so on Wikipedia and in the media so it must be true! If you want to mark it in your diary, it will be 21st January in 2019 and 20th January 2020. So you’re organised, and know to expect to feel “officially” miserable on those days in the next two years!

Blue Monday is actually a very recent phenomenon. It was only invented in 2005 by Dr Cliff Arnall, a lecturer from South Wales who was asked to find the most depressive day of the year by a travel company in order to promote holidays. He even created a formula to “prove” why the third Monday is the most depressive day in relation to time since Christmas, the weather, debt and our motivation levels. Of course, our circumstances are all unique, and therefore, we do not all feel miserable on the same day of the year. Blue Monday has increasingly become a marketing tool to boost our mood and to create depressing headlines in the tabloids.

This week can be difficult as we reach 21 days since New Year as some of us are  taking part in Dry January, given up chocolate, begun a diet, or have started different New Year’s Resolutions with ambitious goals for 2018, and may feel the struggles to remain motivated as the New Year boost has worn off. Another myth which is often in the media is the 21 day rule to form a habit so, we can feel we have failed if we haven’t maintained going to the gym regularly or have had a drink at the weekend, and then lose motivation.

How can we maintain and regain our motivation to achieve our goals this January and throughout 2018?

Be aware it takes longer than 21 days to form a habit. It can take two to three months for an activity to become a habit. It may have taken a week – it depends on the activity, how strong our dendrites were before, how much we practise the new habit, and most importantly, how we form positive thoughts about the goal.

Boost your positive self talk – by being aware of our mental chatter or constant thoughts, we can take control of how we think. We need to consciously change the language of our thoughts from the negative “I can’t” to the positive “I can”. Focus on your goal and think positively on achieving your aim and how you will behave.

Write down the positive version of your negative thought as a powerful affirmation – Consider a specific negative thought which is affecting your motivation. Write down the positive version of your negative thought with vivid images you can relate to in the present tense so that you have a positive physical thought to focus on.

Start a new exercise or diet plan now that you have returned to your work routine, finished the festive treats and social activities have settled after Christmas and New Year. Exercise boosts our mood, helps us to feel more energetic, improves our concentration, and increases our sense of achievement.  By starting or returning to the exercise routine now, we can fit it into our established routine which is more likely to lead to forming a successful habit and achieving our goals.

Start volunteering – one of the main pleasures of Christmas is giving or helping other people. Doing service for others is well known to boost our own happiness levels, we are more aware of our gratitude, and feel more motivated to pursue our challenges as we help others.

Review your goals and any New Year’s Resolutions – if you feel that you have not maintained a New Year’s Resolution, examine the experience and consider why you did not keep the habit. Use this as a learning experience, and set yourself a new SMART goal which is challenging but achievable for you. Make sure that you break down a major goal into smaller manageable tasks to enable you to feel successful.

Start a Gratitude Journal – we have explored the benefits of keeping a Gratitude Journal before. Of course, unlike a calendar year diary, you can start a Gratitude journal at any time – just start a new book or blog page online! Make a daily list of three good things in your job and personal life which happen to you each day – and remember to do this every day, not just at the end of the week!

Just because the media describes a day or even a month as “blue” does not mean we automatically feel low or miserable. We have the power to control our beliefs, thoughts and behaviour, and empower ourselves to enjoy January, pursue our challenges in a positive way, and have the satisfaction of achievement.

We have the power to ensure that 2018 is OUR year!

As Mahatma Gandhi said:

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”