Blue Monday – the impact language can have on mood.

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Blue Monday is supposedly ‘the most depressing day of the year’. The concept originated as a marketing ploy for Sky Travel in 2005, tempting us to think ahead to wonderful summer holidays and part with our hard earned cash in the hope of something warmer and brighter later in the year. Language can have a big impact on mood. Labelling a day as negative is more likely to lower our spirits or predispose us to notice the bad things and gloomy things that are happening.

Even Cliff Arnall who coined the phrase, recognised it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy, especially for those already suffering from depression or mental illness. Earlier today I was in town and bumped into a friend who told me at length how much she hated January every year and can’t wait get through this month and the next also. I find wishing a sixth of your life away and predicting two months of misery every year an astonishingly unhelpful mind set.

If you’ve ever worked with a coach, you will probably appreciate the power of reframing and finding alternative perspectives.

  • What is the best thing to be thinking in order to be at your best?
  • What are the opportunities?
  • What are you curious about?
  • What is under your control that you give your time and attention for positive results?

The reticular activating system (RAS) is a powerful area of the brainstem which is responsible for filtering information and data. It seeks to validate or support our best interests. It notices what you are seeking or telling yourself and then finds the data to support that.

A good example is buying a fruit cage for the allotment. Normally in daily life, you won’t notice fruit cages on allotments as you gaze out of a car or train window on journeys. However, having to decide to buy a fruit cage and explore what that might involve, guess what happens – all of a sudden fruit cages appear in your consciousness. This is the RAS supporting you with data to make the best decision and come up with a plan for what you want. Maybe you can see where this thread is going. If someone decides in advance this time of year is going to be gloomy and pointless, guess what they will notice? More of what is gloomy and pointless. This is just the RAS doing a great job supporting your decisions and beliefs.

So, maybe decide something different about this time of year and invite your RAS to notice more of what is positive and resourceful for you.

Written by Clare Smale, 01380 720377 / / Facebook: inspired2learn / Twitter: @clarethecoach1

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