Blue Month
Blue Month

Mental Health: Countering the Winter Blues – COCUS Blue Month

At COCUS, we truly believe in the well-being of our people. We are firm in our conviction that successful business thrives on the well-being of those involved—after all, we are human beings working with and for human beings. In this regard, we have chosen to make the “blue month” of January ‘less blue’.

We’ve invited one of ours, COCUStar and Clinical & Health Psychologist, Filipa Azevedo, to talk about on what we are cultivating in these weeks and the importance it holds.

The "Blue Monday" phenomenon: Feelings associated with January...

First and foremost, I (Filipa) want to emphasize that the perception of time has become increasingly subjective, if not a complete fallacy. This is due to our contemporary ability to exist simultaneously in multiple micro-dimensions, transcending our conventional understanding of “time.” Nevertheless, the cliché notion that January seems to drag on is a sentiment shared by many. Unlike the fleeting months of February, March, April, May, and so forth, January appears to be an elderly individual attempting to run a marathon. I have some insights to share on this matter.

January marks the inception of a new year, laden with the weight of the expectations for the entire year. Simultaneously, there is a prevailing mindset of “restarting,” akin to a car taking longer to start, creating an illusion of eternity. When compounded with unfavourable weather conditions, potential debts accumulated during the festive season, the pressure to conform socially, and the aspiration to become the “best version” of ourselves within a mere week (commencing gym routines, shedding weight, undertaking various pursuits), the realization that these goals may be overly ambitious reinforces feelings of demotivation, diminished self-worth, and the abandonment of initially envisioned resolutions.

This phenomenon was initially identified by psychologist Cliff Arnall (2005), who noticed a general decrease in emotional well-being during January. Through extensive research, he pinpointed the third Monday of January as the day when people experience heightened feelings of depression, possibly linked to the return to the harsh realities of daily life. Work, bills, problems, decision-making, conflicts—all resume their course, and the December-induced “anaesthesia” wears off completely on that particular date. While I may not have been involved in these investigations, one could argue that there is a significant research avenue associated with this phenomenon. While I may not have been involved in these investigations, one could argue that there is a significant research avenue associated with this phenomenon.

COCUS Blue Month: Weekly exchange & joint activities!

Taking this into account, at COCUS, we are not just observing the Blue Monday phenomenon; we are contemplating its real impact in our daily basis. Considering impact involves creating innovative approaches to handle these situations. This led us to develop not just a Blue Monday but our own Blue Month concept!

Our objective is not to dismiss or undermine people’s feelings but rather to infuse them with renewed vigor and significance. As Sigmund Freud aptly stated, “Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.” It may sound intense, but it holds true. Creating our concept and transforming “Blue Monday” into a Blue Month has allowed us to bring our community together and normalize phenomena that many may feel but seldom express.

Scheduled every Wednesday this month, we will convene to discuss and reflect on well-being and mental health while engaging in enjoyable activities together! We have already commenced our project and are excited about the outcomes.

COCUS as a "People First Company"

For us, our commitment to employee happiness is reflected in concrete actions on our daily basis, over the past years, for example, with:

Frequent 1:1 People Follow-ups: Our commitment to open communication is reflected in our frequent one-on-one people follow-ups. These sessions provide a platform for employees to express their thoughts, share concerns, and receive constructive feedback regularly.

Employee Assistance Program: We offer the Pulso Employee Assistance Program, providing a comprehensive set of services from Psychological, Nutrition, Psychosocial support, amongst other, for employees and their direct family members.

Employee Satisfaction Surveys: To gauge the well-being and satisfaction of our employees, we regularly conduct comprehensive employee satisfaction surveys. These surveys provide valuable insights into the working experience at COCUS, allowing us to identify areas for improvement and address concerns proactively.

In our latest survey, over 90% of our employees recognized COCUS as a People First Company, attesting to our continuous efforts to create a positive and supportive environment.

And, remember: Often, it's not an end but a new beginning.

Guest contribution by

Filipa Azevedo
Filipa Azevedo

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