The holidays are now behind you, the post-holiday buzz has died off, and instead of being surrounded by close family or friends, you’re back in the office, surrounded by colleagues, some of whom—let’s be honest—you didn’t exactly miss. Those intense projects you put on the backburner while you were away are now back in full swing. On top of that, the wintery weather outside has shifted from feeling festive to feeling just cold and miserable.
Yes, Blue Monday is officially here. The third Monday of January has been coined the gloomiest day of the year, which is especially true if you’re someone who doesn’t love your day job.
While the new year marks the promise of a new beginning, the nature of your work hasn’t fundamentally shifted from where you left it in December. The prospect of facing another year of being dissatisfied with your job can feel daunting. The good news is that you can take steps to not only help you get through Blue Monday but also make your work situation easier to stomach moving forward without resorting to a drastic change.
1. Create Positive Connections
Most of us can think of at least one person in our workplace who injects negativity into everything. Their presence alone can adversely affect your day-to-day mood. “Avoiding toxic people is the simplest thing to do to give yourself the space to be engaged and happier at work,” says Dr. Julia Overton-Healy, director of career services at St. John Fisher College. Surrounding yourself with the right people can have a big impact on how you feel, so try to form relationships with positive people you admire and respect.
This goes both ways. You can also find someone who could benefit from your positivity and help. “Contributing to the wellbeing of others can create truly positive experiences for ourselves,” according to Josh Evans, Founder of Culture Consulting Associates. “Find small things that you can do to brighten someone else’s day and watch how your own attitude begins to transition.”
2. Redesign Your Environment
Your physical environment at work can also affect your overall mood. Take steps to make your office space one that works well for you. Nate Masterson, CEO and HR Manager of Maple Holistics says, “Taking the time to set up your office properly will make it feel a bit homier so that you have a more positive attitude towards it.” He recommends putting up some personal pictures that make you smile or removing clutter from your desk so you can think clearly.
You can also create more space for yourself at work, both literally and figuratively. “Take your lunch away from your desk, schedule time for yourself to work independently, take a walk outside of the office,” suggest Dana Hundley and Jenna Richardson, cofounders of the Career Cooperative. “Finding space for yourself eliminates stress because you’re able to focus on yourself and the work you need to get done.”
3. Do Other Things You Enjoy
Too often, the demands of our job lead us to prioritize work over things we actually enjoy doing, which can slowly degrade your day-to-day happiness and life satisfaction. Taking the time to reconnect with what you enjoy can improve your outlook. “Set aside 15 minutes in your day to learn something new which can help boost confidence, overall knowledge, and improve mental health,” says Jill Gugino Pante, Director of the University of Delaware Career Services Center.
You could also invest more time in a passion project that excites you. “Work toward building your own brand which can help both with building a business or getting a promotion,” says Kim Chronister, PsyD, a licensed clinical psychologist. “Putting effort into your own passion project will increase your confidence and contentment, making the job you dislike much more tolerable.”
Regardless of which activity you decide to pursue, you should always have something to look forward to. Matt Edstrom, CMO of GoodLife Homes, suggests you build in little things throughout your week you’ll sincerely enjoy like stopping at your favorite coffee shop on your way to work, grabbing sushi for your lunch break, or taking a group workout class. “Redirect that energy you would be using to dread Monday and instead use it to look forward to the specific activity you’ve planned.”
4. Practice Self-Care
Being unhappy at work can lead to a vicious downward spiral where you also fail to take care of yourself, which in turn leaves you with less energy to then deal with your frustrations, leading to further unhappiness. “We so often get caught up in the endless pursuit of satisfaction at work, that we forget to take care of ourselves,” according to Kris Hughes, Senior Content Marketing Manager at ProjectManager.com. “Whether this means daily exercise, improving your diet, meditating, or something else, everyone should do something every single day that allows them to always be their best selves at work regardless of what the world is throwing at them.”
Self-care also means setting clear boundaries so you don’t overextend yourself at work. “If you don’t set boundaries, you will burn out quickly,” says business coach Esther Gonzalez Freeman. “Consider setting a Monday morning routine to minimize your stress levels. Block off your schedule so you don’t have meetings until after a certain time, allowing you space to catch up on emails and calls, as well as set your priorities for the rest of the week.”
5. Ask For Help
Struggling with job dissatisfaction is not something you have to deal with all on your own. Just acknowledging that you need help, then taking steps to seek out that help can alleviate the pressures you may be feeling. This could involve reaching out to a trusted colleague at work for help with something you’re struggling with. This action alone can build more positive relationships to improve your work situation. Christine Mellon, Chief Human Resources Officer at CSG states, “Far from being a sign of professional weakness, the willingness to ask others on your team for help engenders camaraderie and compassion. Being open to asking for occasional assistance nurtures a team spirit and ultimately fosters a more fulfilling and happier workplace.”
You could also reach out to someone outside your organization who can provide you with an objective sounding board and fresh perspective. “Don’t be afraid to talk to someone about your feelings. It helps to chat with friends, family, and mentors,” says Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation.com. “Many may not realize just how unhappy you are and can offer support, guidance, and encouragement. You don’t have to remedy everything on your own—it’s okay to ask for help if you need it.”
6. Reconnect With Your Goals
Finally, if you’re not happy with your current day job, clarifying what useful role it may still play in your life can be a good reminder why holding onto your job may actually be worth it. “One way to cope with the challenges of Blue Monday is to have a clear understanding of what your goals are and how the role you’re currently in helps you to achieve those goals,” according to Angelina Darrisaw, Founder & CEO of C-Suite Coach.
For example, even if you don’t love the work you do, it may still provide you with stability that’s important to you or your family at this moment. Although you might not find your projects particularly engaging, your job may be enabling you to achieve an important financial goal. Your association with your company may also serve as a source of credibility as you build up relevant contacts for your next endeavor.
Realizing that the role of your job can be to serve as an enabler for something else important in your life can help you be more at peace with any ongoing frustrations you may be experiencing.
You Always Have A Choice
If these strategies don’t create a material, lasting difference to your overall job satisfaction, you may have to consider making a more substantial change like changing jobs, locations, or companies. However, even if you don’t look forward to walking into the office every day, you can make some choices, change your attitudes, and take some actions in the interim to make your workplace more palatable and prevent every Monday from feeling like Blue Monday.
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This article was originally posted on Forbes.