How to make Blue Monday a little less blue

Unhappy woman working on a laptop, Blue Monday concept


Here at SheCanCode, we’ve put together this guide to help navigate through Blue Monday and January to start the year on a positive footing

Getting back to work and into the swing of things after the Christmas break can be tough!

January is well-known for being depressing and gloomy –the weather is miserable, money is tight, holidays are a far-off thought, and motivation is at an all-time low. And to top it all off, today marks Blue Monday – the most depressing day of the year!

Here at SheCanCode, we’ve put together this guide to help navigate through January and start the year on a positive footing.

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Create a career plan

Ever if you’re not looking for a new role, a career plan of action is always a good idea.

Start by examining your options and what you want to achieve in the coming year – this could be anything from asking for a pay rise, gain a new skill, securing a promotion or transitioning into an entirely different industry.

Decide where you want to be, set clear objectives and write down achievable targets. This way, once you’ve achieved something you can mark it off and celebrate your successes. It also allows you to re-evaluate and review at points during the year.

Assess your finances

After the spending frenzy of December and the rising costs of living, it can be stressful thinking about your finances.

To help make your money stretch further, start by making a budget. This can help you keep a track of your spending, and find areas you can cut back. The Money Advice Service’s budget planner is a great tool to start you on your budgeting journey.

Ask for a pay rise

Depending on your company, January can be a great time to ask for a pay rise as financial years can run from January to December. Even if your organization follows the tax year, starting your prep in the new year can allow you to build a strong case for your pay increase.

Below, we’ve detailed some handy tips to get the pay you deserve:

  • Don’t surprise your boss – pre-warn your manager by emailing them to ask if you can book some time in. If you feel uncomfortable asking to talk about your wage, you can always ask for a chat about your career prospects and progression instead.
  • Do it in person (if you can) – more and more of us are working remotely nowadays, but if you can meet in person, then do. It’s much harder to say no to someone when looking directly at them.
  • Do build a case for your pay rise – make notes of your achievements and positive actions to show your successes.
  • Don’t go in to your review with over-the-top expectations – look at similar roles in the job market to get a rough idea of what the going rate is.

Learn a new skill

The tech industry has a huge digital skills gap at the moment – so there has never been a better time to take up a new hobby or learn a new skill.

January is a great time to research potential training opportunities or courses. If you’re in the tech sector, there are hundreds of free courses to help you gain new skills.

As a starter for ten, we’ve listed some free coding resources that you need to know about here.

Use annual leave

Christmas and New Year is a fun time for many, but when you land back into the office in January, it can sometimes feel like you haven’t had a break.

Taking a few days off in January can help you catch your breath after the festive fun, and help you feel more relaxed and productive.

January is also a great time to use up any of that leftover holiday before your allowance starts again.

Prioritise your mental health

There is a mental health epidemic across the globe, with many employees facing burnout, depression and anxiety. Data from MHFA England found that in 2022, 50% of employees have experienced at least one characteristic of burnout due to greater job demands and expectations, lack of social interaction and lack of boundaries between work and home life.

Setting boundaries at work can be hard – especially if you’ve been in the same role for a while. People can come to expect things that might be damaging your mental health. January is a great time to wipe the slate clean and start putting new boundaries in place.

Start by asking yourself what boundaries you want to set in place, what are negotiable and what are deal breakers. Work with your manager and colleagues and communicate exactly what you need and what they are expecting of you. Start taking small steps such as blocking out an hour for lunch, setting strict working hours and deleting email apps from your personal phone.

Take a break from your desk

It has been well-proven that taking a break from work has incredible benefits. It can relieve stress, increase focus, decreases exhaustion and help you become more productive.

Remember those daily walks during COVID-19? Get back into those habits and make a point of leaving your desk – it can be as simple as stepping away to make a proper lunch, walking the dog, or just having 5 minutes to clear your head.


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