The third Monday of January is considered the most depressing day of the year. This is the time when winter weather, wallets strained after the holiday season and unfulfilled New Year's resolutions, which most of us give up in mid-January, accumulate. However, experts argue that Blue Monday may be a good time to give yourself a second chance and start lifestyle changes planned by many Poles, including increasing the physical activity level.
– Observing physical activity of more than a million MultiSport card users, we see that when New Year’s resolutions are made it goes up by almost 25% above the average. For the most part, however, these are people who have already exercised and are trying to increase the level of their physical activity in the new year. According to the MultiSport Index 2019 survey, 64% of Poles undertake some form of physical activity at least once a month. This is 2% more than last year. Still, 36% of Polish residents do not undertake any physical activity – says Adam Radzki, Management Board Member at Benefit Systems, the creator of the MultiSport Programme.
Good start and quick finish
According to CBOS data, only 10% of Poles meet their New Year's plans. This year, the creators of the Strava sports application, based on previous measurements of their users' activity, estimate that most people will give up their resolutions as early as January 19. The following day is Blue Monday, the most depressing Monday of the year, which results from fatigue caused by winter weather, Christmas spendings and abandoned plans.
– Contrary to appearances, Blue Monday can be a great opportunity to give yourself a second chance to start an active lifestyle. First of all, because sport improves your mood and helps you overcome depression. Few people know that physical activity makes our brain learn to respond with greater pleasure to other experiences. Thanks to them, it is easier for us to enjoy small things like a sunnier morning or tea drunk in the company of another person. Secondly, the plans made in the second half of January, which is when we enter the daily routine after the holiday season, will be better suited to our usual duties. The current difficulties in keeping to our resolutions should be treated as our resources, meaning a source of information about what needs to be changed in our approach or what support we need. Then there is a good chance that we will formulate a more rational action plan. Rational meaning one that also includes different ways of dealing with difficulties that naturally come along when we introduce change. It all increases the chance of success – notes Mateusz Banaszkiewicz, health psychologist.
What we should know to turn ambitious plans into long-term habits?
1. First of all, motivation
As experts emphasise, we should start making plans by determining our motivation, which means answering the following question: Why do we want to change something? According to data, 43% of Poles exercise for health, 27% for pleasure and relaxation and 14% to improve their look and body shape. If our motivation is health, it is worth considering why we care for it so much. For some, it is a source of independence while others feel it enables them to take care of their loved ones. Such in-depth motivation will help us start and continue achieving the goal. It will also remind us why we decided to change and make us feel that what we are doing makes sense – emphasises Mateusz Banaszkiewicz.
2. Specify your expectations and be patient
At the beginning of our activity, we should determine what exactly we want to achieve, at what time we will do it and what is the measure of our success, which means how we will know that we have achieved the goal. – It is also important for the goal to be achievable. Let’s not assume at once that we will lose 10 unnecessary kilograms in a month or that we will exercise 7 times a week. Let's make small changes and be patient. Let's not be discouraged by the initial lack of effects, which will come with time and regularity of our actions. Let's not be afraid to consult specialists who will tell us if our expectations are realistic and safe in a long run – suggests Mateusz Banaszkiewicz.
3. Don't make up for anything and don’t be discouraged
Sometimes determination to achieve a goal fails. We have a worse day and we don’t exercise. It happens – consoles psychologist. If such a break lasts longer, we should not try to make up for missed activities. It can overwhelm us and cause a decrease in motivation. We should start over. Let's remember why we set ourselves a specific task and get down to work. Remember: failure is a natural element of the process of achieving goals.
Motivation for regular physical activity can be found in the series of inspiring podcasts with experts called “What moves you. MultiSport” that are available on Spotify. Why motivation ends so quickly? We are talking about this with Ewa Jochheim, the founder of the Durkalski Institute in Poland: https://open.spotify.com/episode/2C1Zm0nI0iEEmdpikdXEFd