Blue Monday? Blog by Lisa Fathers & Patrick Ottley-O’Connor

Blue Monday?

There are ways to avoid this and to manage January a bit better according to Lisa Fathers and Patrick Ottley-O’ Connor 

New Year is a time where we celebrate new beginnings and fresh starts but while for many of us it’s a time to reflect on what we’d like to achieve or change in the year ahead, sometimes it can feel a bit overwhelming. January is dark, many of us are still adjusting to being back after the Christmas holidays and dark January days can be a really rough time of the year. Loads of people were robbed of their family Christmas because of Covid, others are struggling with Covid related issues now. 

 ‘Blue Monday’ ( today!) is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year.  So how do you keep a positive mindset when it’s back to work?

Here are my tips for focussing on five areas that can help you maintain a positive mindset in the New Year and they are rooted in #teacher5aday :


You may not be into setting resolutions but it’s rather difficult to escape hearing about them! As leaders and teachers we’re so used to thinking about others, but January is a good time to consider our own needs.

– If you are wanting to change something, be realistic and ask yourself WHY? By making sure your goals align with your own personal values you’ll be more invested in trying to achieve them

– Don’t be over ambitious, take small steps and recognise that striving for perfection can lead to negative thoughts if you are too idealistic

– Expect setbacks as they are part of life, but don’t try to reach your goals on your own.  By asking for help you’ll feel supported and will be more likely to adapt plans and implement positive strategies to get there along the way

– Consider how your students are feeling.  What are they looking forward to this term and what challenges may they face?

Focus on physical activity as well as mental health

Making sure we carve out time to stay active is really important at this time of year even though the mornings and evenings are still dark.

-You don’t need to sign up to a gym membership to get active: a small stretch as soon as you get up can wake your body up or a quick brisk walk at lunchtime

-Eating healthy food and getting quality sleep play a huge part in keeping a positive mindset. Start your routines as you mean to go on and if something isn’t working, don’t feel bad about changing it. It’s about what works for you- habits really are everything!

Create a positive environment around you

Spending more time with people who make you feel good, whether that be in a professional or social capacity, will have a desirable impact on your positivity and productivity.

– Reading blogs, listening to audio books or podcasts from those who inspire you can also have a constructive effect. Equally listening to music is so uplifting! I love putting on my dance tunes and having a dance around the kitchen!

– Make a regular appointment in your diary to try something new that you’re interested in or allocate ‘learning time’ to yourself.  This could be a 10-minute chat with someone you know, perhaps a mentor/coach or simply reading a professional magazine.  It may be attending an event or booking on a CPD course

– Think about the effect you have on others as well.  Smiling can make such a huge difference to someone’s day whether that’s in the classroom or in the staff room

Focus on solutions

-It’s easy to procrastinate and go around in circles worrying about things.  But this only perpetuates negative thoughts.  Break projects up into bite size chunks and get the ball rolling.  Everyone has to start somewhere!  You’ll feel better if you make even the smallest steps

Be thankful and remember who you are outside of school

– Be kind to yourself and remind yourself of your top positive personal characteristics. Ask a friend or family member what they think.   I like to reflect on what I’m grateful for throughout the day – even if it’s something small.

– Remember how important your role is and the positive impact you can have on a young person’s life or a young teacher’s life.

–  Juggling work with personal/family time is really important. As well as prioritising what to do at the start of the day, I protect my family time and enjoy my own hobbies outside of work.  As a spin instructor I love being able to combine physical exercise and teaching with music.

Stay Connected

– Avoid isolation by actively staying connected with those people who bring you joy! Meeting up with family & friends, either face-to-face or online, can really boost us in the cold dark winter months.  I have several social meets planned to take me through to the February half-term break

– Share your ambitions and plans with others, especially if they have the same interests and/or resolutions. It’s not a secret that I share a tweet a day of my evening meal to help me keep on track with my healthy eating and weight loss

Be Mindful

– Don’t be too busy to stop and notice your surroundings and environment.  A cold and misty Sunday out walking on Blue Monday Eve, created some beautifully dramatic photographs and memories that were food for my soul!

  • Take time to see the changes in colleagues who maybe also looking to improve some aspect of their life.  A well placed compliment to let someone know who well it appears to be working can work wonders!


  • Supporting others to achieve their ambitions can be very satisfying and positively contribute to your own mental health and wellbeing
  • I regularly support others to see and own their own wellbeing, as well as supporting them to solve any issues and actually do something about it.  It is so rewarding! 

Become a Wellbeing Supermodel

  • I ensure that my Oxygen Mask is always firmly in place by following the five ways to wellbeing of #teacher5aday
  • Words without actions can be detrimental.  I tweet my #teacher5aday activity 365 days/year to demonstrate my commitment to my own wellbeing and proudly claim my self-professed title of being a Wellbeing Supermodel!  
  • Why not use your reinvigorated Blue Monday to claim the title too and become a Wellbeing Supermodel?

If you want your school to have an improved Wellbeing approach have you checked out @wellschools  Well Schools – Youth Sport Trust

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