The holidays are over, but the extra six pounds you gained from too much wine and too many cookies have followed you well into the new year. As a freelancer, yes, you make your own schedule—and you should absolutely schedule some time to hit the gym—but tax season is also looming. And so are all those deadlines.
Also, those gifts you bought on credit in December? Yeah, that bill is due. Like, yesterday.
The weather is bleak. Don’t even look at the wind chill factor. Pretend it doesn’t exist.
The third Monday of January—commonly referred to as “Blue Monday”—is right around the corner. Researchers say this is the most depressing day of the year, but don’t let it get you down. We’ve compiled some ways to fight off the winter blues below.
Move your body.
Exercise has long been considered one of the best ways to stave off depression, and studies have proven just that. One important factor to note, though, is that although there are short-term benefits from exercise, the benefits accumulate—sticking to it produces more and better benefits.
Any exercise at all seems to produce benefits. Even just doing some yard work or taking a walk. Freelancers are busy. We get it. But, according to the New York Times, one minute of the right kind of exercise can provide great benefits for your health. One minute. It’s hard to make excuses now, isn’t it?
One study showed depression levels were reduced from dancing. Fortunately, we have a song suggestion that fits our theme: “Blue Monday” by New Order. Seriously. Queue it up and spaz out around your bedroom. If you don’t feel better after, or if you’re a 90s kid who needs some nostalgia, try Orgy’s cover of the same song.
Okay, now that we’ve taken a dance break, on to our next trick: Practice gratitude.
Embrace the power of positive thinking.
Science has shown that practicing gratitude is one of the best ways to lift your spirits. There are a lot of ways to focus on the things you are grateful for, from making a daily list, to actually reaching out to people to express gratitude—make one phone call or send one email telling someone why you appreciate them and chances are you will feel happier afterward. You can do this every day.
The fact is, we take a lot for granted. If you’re reading this, you have a connection to the internet—something a lot of the world may not have access to. That’s just one thing to be grateful for, but chances are if you take a moment to think about your life, you can find a lot more to be grateful for, even if it is as simple as the cup of coffee you’re about to enjoy.
Freelancers, consider this: We’re living in a golden age for creative types and for remote workers. The internet has provided us with endless opportunities, as well as the ability to work from anywhere in the world, and the amount of resources for freelancers is ever-growing.
For psychological well-being, do something good.
The list of ways that volunteerism helps with both mental and physical health is stunning. Just take a look at a few of the benefits from one study in Psychological Aging:
- Regular volunteers were found to have lower levels of hypertension.
- Volunteers were also found to have increases in psychological well-being.
- Many studies have “consistently linked volunteerism to lower all-cause mortality among older adults.”
Some of those psychological benefits found include:
- More satisfaction with life;
- Better self-esteem;
- A stronger sense of personal control; and
- A decrease in depressive symptoms.
Volunteering, it seems, can quite literally save your life. For Americans, “Blue Monday” falls on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday—many workers will have off for the day, and what better way to celebrate than by doing some good? Not only will you be helping the cause you choose to support, but you’ll also be helping yourself at the same time.
It’s the ultimate win-win situation.
Smile—even when you don’t feel like it.
Smiling, even if the smile is forced, has repeatedly been shown to decrease stress, and it’s so easy to do. Try it now. Even if your day is full of deadlines, meetings, and, oh yeah, you’ve still got to send all those invoices because it’s the end of the month—stressing about it all doesn’t help get it done.
Say no to the duck-face: The sheer act of faking a smile can instantly improve your mood. Click To Tweet
Maybe the best way to keep yourself happy is to do a combination of all of the tricks we listed: Smile while you list the things you are grateful for, then go for a jog before heading out to the volunteer job you do for a cause you really care about. Most importantly, give yourself the time you need to focus on these things for at least a few minutes per day and watch your outlook begin to change for the better.
Have some positivity hacks of your own to share? Go on and drop them in the comments.