Happy New Year. The question is, what’s happy about it? With Omicron now the prevalent variant spreading at speed, we’re all burned out and tired with no other choice but to continue. Welcome to 2022!
Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report found that nearly 7 out of 10 people are struggling or suffering in their overall lives, and nearly 80% of people are disengaged from work. While some of this can be attributed to COVID situations, it’s also part of a growing trend. People aren’t happy.
As we enter year three of the pandemic, today is Blue Monday — the supposed most depressing day of the year that ties holiday blues with winter and job dissatisfaction.
Before the pandemic, the Christmas holiday season could always be guaranteed to make us feel happier. While there isn’t strong evidence that the third Monday in January is the unhappiest day of the year, there is always a sharp drop from the Christmas peak. In 2019, happiness levels dropped from 61% to 48%. This year, the peak itself was only 49% but by the end of last week it was down to 41%.
COVID uncertainty casts a dark shadow on what is usually a happy time of the year. Instead of getting a restorative period at the end of the year, we’re worried about getting COVID in the latest outbreak or wondering if we can or should travel. This, undoubtedly, takes its toll.
How to thrive in 2022
It’s clear that people are merely surviving, not thriving amid all this continued uncertainty. We’ve been below average for more than two years now. We feel it in our daily lives, and we certainly feel it in our teams. So, what can we do to beat Blue Monday this year and ensure 2022 is about thriving, not just surviving?
Here are five things you can do to break the trend.
Remember that you are not alone. Reach out and connect with your co-workers and friends. Working from home and lockdown situations make us feel more isolated. Not only do we miss our friends, but we also miss out on the little side interactions that help us form closer bonds with the people we work with.
To counter this, connect with a different colleague each day. Book a Zoom chat or go for a walk and talk meeting. Leaders can help teams collaborate on projects and have more interactions with each other. It will likely be more enjoyable and productive, and ultimately a collaborative workplace is better for employee wellbeing.
January can be cold and miserable but make time to venture out. Even if it’s for just 30 minutes every day, going for a walk or a run outside will help you feel and work better (And for fitness-minded people, going out in the cold burns more calories than being in the warm). If you live close enough to a co-worker, consider meeting up and going for a walk.
A sense of humour
You must laugh about what’s going on, or it just becomes too much to bear. Laughter is like a group hug in the sense that when you hug someone, you’re sending a message that they’re a part of your family. Laughter helps us synchronize emotions with others and helps everyone feel like they belong.
There’s a reason why Christmas cracker jokes are so bad — instead of laughing because of the joke, we all laugh at how bad the joke is. So, take the time to laugh at a meme. Watch a funny video and then share it with a friend. These little actions help bring us closer together and improve a bad situation.
Variety is the spice of 2022
We all have our pandemic routine set now, but is it something that brings us happiness? In January, take time to think about what has brought you joy in the past and what might bring you happiness in the future. You may need to rediscover what made you happy about work or take up an old hobby again. Set yourself a new goal to learn something new. The challenge of discovery will make you feel more confident and inject some fun into your routine.
Put the brakes on a bad habit
Don’t underestimate the power of the new year — it provides a clean slate and is the perfect time to disrupt bad habits. It’s a natural reflective period that can give you extra motivation to transform yourself.
On a personal level, it may be that you need to cut back on your alcohol consumption or how much TV you watch. Just as you consider the habits that impact your personal life, you should also consider what you need to change at work. Maybe you need to stop micromanaging or having too many meetings. Whatever it is, set a goal and stick to it.
A happier 2022
Happiness is a habit, and it takes consistent effort to be happier. Just doing one of these things once won’t cut it. But even if you only pick one of these tips and do it repeatedly, you will see results and avoid the blues on both Blue Monday and beyond.