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Traditionally, the third Monday in January – known as Blue Monday – is said to be the saddest day of the year. The highs of the holiday season, spent with family and friends in a normal year, are gone. The days are short, dark, and cold. Credit card statements, often reflecting the excesses of the season, are arriving. And many of us have already started to feel our resolve falter in sticking to those New Year’s Resolutions. No wonder it’s such a sad, depressing time!

Of course, this year is different. Most of us will have spent less, travelled less, visited with friends and family less, and in general celebrated less. In comparison with holiday seasons past, this one will feel lackluster for many of us.

It’s hard to guess what Blue Monday will look and feel like this year. Will it be better because there was no dramatic holiday high to come down from? Will it be worse because we’ve already been in a low all year? Perhaps this year it’s best to focus simply on being mindful of our thoughts, whatever they might be, and be more intentional about what we want to manifest for the rest of the year.

For managers, I think it’s less about being a “good manager” this month, and more about mindfully and intentionally taking care of yourself to ensure you can provide support and inspiration to your team (and to yourself!) for the rest of the year.

Setting an intention is a great way to go about doing or working towards something with focus, but without the rigidity a “goal” or “commitment” might place upon us. If we can focus our energy in the right direction without stressing over meeting milestones and timelines, then we’re more likely to continue to take baby steps in the right direction – a feat in itself during this chaotic time.

Intentions can be specific or more general in nature:

  • I intend to take time to eat my lunch / take a coffee break today without work interruptions
  • I intend to speak openly and truthfully about how I am feeling with my team
  • I intend to listen attentively when my team speaks to me

Here are some tips for intention setting for managers and leaders from Nebo Company:

  • Find a place where you can be free from distractions for a few minutes.
  • Take a moment to tune in to how you are feeling. Notice your emotions, any stress that may be arriving, and do a quick scan of your body. If you are holding any physical tension in your body take a deep breath, directing your breath into those spots of tension while relaxing your muscles as you exhale.
  • You might choose to do a quick centring.
  • Once you’ve taken a second to quiet your mind and physically relax, reflect on whatever is coming up for you today, whether it is an upcoming meeting, an important conversation, or a challenging task.
  • Begin to imagine how you’d like to show up during the next few hours. See if you can really picture yourself acting out your intention. If you can, distill your intention into one clear statement.
  • While taking a few breaths, repeat that statement to yourself a few times. Write it down on a piece of paper where you can easily glance at it throughout the day.
  • After you’ve set your intention, continue with your day.
  • As you navigate the next few hours, return to your intention frequently, repeating your sentence a few times to yourself. Make sure to do this before the important conversation or meeting where you most need it.

Intentions are exceptionally helpful in environments where you may be easily stressed or triggered (sounds like any day at the office during the pandemic!). Intentions can help you become more mindful of your actions and reactions throughout the day, and they can help you become a more mindful manager while you also take care of yourself.

What intentions will you set for yourself this Blue Monday? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.