Changing my thought process to beat the January blues and anxiety

As I sit here typing today, I’m in a bit of a melancholic mood. I finished work on Friday 20th December and have just enjoyed a wonderful 2-week break. Christmas and New Year were excellent – a relaxed period spending valuable time with family and friends. Now, as I often do on this day each year, I’m looking ahead 24hrs and lamenting the fact that I have to return to work, and consequently ‘normal life’, tomorrow.

I love Christmas and those few days when we take down the tree and consider returning to work often see me sliding towards the much-feared ‘January blues’. It’s not that I hate my job; it certainly isn’t the worst in the world and it can be rewarding on some days. It’s just that I would much rather spend my time doing the things I truly want to do in life, such as writing, creating music, cooking, listening to podcasts, heading out for nice walks on crisp winter mornings, curling up on the couch and catching up with some TV, and suchlike. Basically, all the things I’ve done and thoroughly enjoyed during the past fortnight.

Whilst dwelling on this a little too much for my liking, I saw a quote yesterday which completely changed my perspective. Taking creative licence to replace one instance of the F-bomb with a more palatable word for a wider audience, it goes like this:

Instead of “damn, I gotta clean”, I think “I deserve to work and live in a clean space”. Instead of “ughhh, I gotta workout”, I tell myself “I deserve to live a healthy life with the people I love”. So many things we can accomplish by reframing our mindset.

I immediately thought of another example to include within the quote:

Instead of “I really don’t want to go to work tomorrow”, I think “I deserve to continue doing my job to the best of my ability and seeing how much I can achieve and how I can develop myself further this year”.

Somehow, this has instantly made me think differently about returning to work. I don’t fear it anymore. In fact, just from adding the above sentence to the quote, I’m actually quite looking forward to getting stuck into it again; to delivering key projects for the company I work for; to continue developing myself; to continue striving to be the best I can be in my role. This way of thinking has prompted me to add a few more examples to the quote (which may soon be a lengthy monologue rather than a sentence or two…).

Instead of “I can’t be bothered writing today”, I think “if I remain committed to write on a daily basis, I can release another 2 or 3 books this year and stand a slightly greater chance of perhaps getting somewhere with this”.

Instead of “The weather looks a bit grotty and I can’t be bothered taking the dog for a walk this morning”, I think “how lucky I am to be able to get out there, enjoy the fresh air and spend an hour, probably the only hour in my life, appreciating the simple things in life without a million and one things whirling around inside my head”.

Instead of “I can’t be bothered attacking that to-do list I made for today – I’ll scroll through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for a while before ticking off a task or two later on”, I think “this is another day when I can set a precedent for the rest of this year by nailing as much as possible on this list. I will feel so much better when I get into bed tonight knowing I’ve spent my time wisely today”.

I could go on and on and on though I’m sure you get the message. There will be times when this mindset doesn’t work – we all have days like those – though I’m really hoping that thinking in this way will help me considerably. For such a simple little quote, this really could have a profound effect on me.

Finally, I’m sure some of you will be wondering why I’ve reference anxiety in the title of this post. It’s because there are often elements of the January blues which do make me anxious. Primarily, I’m often anxious about returning to work after any break, wondering what issues I’ll walk into and need to resolve; which of the difficult characters at work I’ll need to deal with this week; or which situations may arise which will make me become more anxious than normal. There are also occasions when I place anxiety upon myself, to varying degrees, as a result of not addressing some of the examples listed above. I overthink things if there is a day when I don’t feel geared up to plough through my to-do list, or take the dog for a walk due to crappy weather, or I skip writing because I just don’t feel like it. I’m really hoping that adopting this new mindset, essentially one of gratitude and positivity, will help to reduce those feelings of anxiety. No doubt I’ll revisit this in a future post and update on progress made (or non-progress, if that’s the case…).

Thanks for reading, take care, and please try to find your own methods of dealing with the January blues if they also affect you.

Best wishes,

Mick

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