January is typically the month where workers across the UK are supposedly feeling most anxious and downcast about the challenges of the coming year.
Some claim that 'Blue Monday', which reportedly fell this week, is the moment at which our optimism is at its lowest level. Regardless of whether you believe that or not - here are five targets to set yourself to put you on course for a happier and healthier year in 2014.
Set yourself new goals
Having a sense of purpose is a key aspect of psychological wellbeing. Setting yourself goals, both in and outside of work, is vital to avoid feeling anxious and overworked at the beginning of a busy year. Try working towards gaining a new skill or qualification, or spend time planning social and cultural activities with colleagues outside of working hours. Learning new skills and trying new things builds confidence, as well as strengthening bonds and relationships with colleagues.
Make sure to keep aside time for yourself
With mobile technology now the norm, we're finding it harder to switch off at the end of the working day and balance our priorities. The temptation to check emails late at night or at weekends means that we find it difficult to distance ourselves from a working mindset. So this year, set a cap on your working hours, switch off your emails and set aside time to relax. Take regular breaks to clear your head during the day too; going for a quick walk in the afternoon can help you relax and make more balanced decisions. Writing a wellbeing checklist is a good idea to make sure you keep all the commitments you've made.
Know your limits
It can often be tempting to say yes to every request we're given, especially at the start of a new year when we're keen to impress. But remember that taking on too much work can have a negative impact to your own wellbeing and performance. Remaining assertive will reduce the chance of over-burdening workloads and the pressure to meet unrealistic expectations. Having a strong sense of your own abilities - and the confidence to remain assertive - will reduce the pressure to meet unrealistic expectations and help ensure that you perform to your best.
Make physical activity part of your working routine
We lead increasingly hectic lives and work long hours, so it's vital we are given the chance to bond with colleagues. A lunchtime game of football or walk with colleagues is an ideal way to stay active whilst allowing time to build relationships outside of office confines.
If you feel able, you could also try walking, cycling or jogging to work - not only will it make you fitter, but, depending on where you live, it can often reduce commuting time and travel costs. If you live close to colleagues, pairing up to make the journey to work together is a good way to keep motivated while building friendships.
If you think that exercising your way to work five days a week will be too strenuous, then start off with a couple of days each week and work your way up. You'll soon notice the difference.
A little more conversation
A good rule for you to take this year is cutting back on email contact - next time you need to speak with a colleague or manager, ask them rather than emailing them. Having face-to-face conversations can really help to solve issues quicker and establish a more personal rapport with colleagues. Containing stressful emotions can actually damage our health, so talking instead of emailing can make a real difference to your wellbeing and performance at work.
Adopting Business in the Community's (BITC) Workwell Model will also show the benefits of taking a strategic, proactive approach to workplace wellbeing and provides practical support to those wanting to make a difference.