If you check your social media feeds on a Sunday, in the mid- to late afternoon, you will start noticing a trickle of posts, GIFs, memes and other shared content expressing a common lament: “The weekend was way too short and fleeting, and I am dreading Monday”. The trickle quickly becomes a flood, and when the actual day comes, there are now several popular threads filling up your news feeds with constantly updated photos such as “If Monday had a face” or “Monday coming at you like…” – complete with photos to match the general feeling of dismay we want to convey to all who would listen.
If you ask folks how they are doing on that day, you will likely hear, “Oh, you know….. It’s definitely a Monday!” (The more positive crowd may tell you, “Not bad…. for a Monday!”) And if you are a fan of that epic work chronicles “Office Space”, you are certain to use the quote “Someone’s got the case of the Mondays!” when witnessing surly, unproductive demeanor from those around you.
The “Sunday Night Blues” are definitely real – there is even a classified disorder called dimanchophobia, or fear of going from unstructured (weekend, leisure) time to structured (weekday, working) time, that impacts an overwhelming percentage of those of us who are employed or go to school. In a study by monster.com, some 78% of respondents admitted feeling anxiety and sadness on Sundays as related to the beginning of a new week, even if they also reported liking their job and their employer.
What causes this “Mondays-induced” anxiety and how can we combat that feeling and learn to have a happy, productive week regardless of what day of it is upon us?
To begin with, we tend to associate weekends with freedom, fun, lack of stress and pressure, doing things that are enjoyable with people who are also enjoyable to be around. When we do have things we MUST complete on the weekends, it’s usually because we CHOOSE to complete them. This also lends to the feeling of freedom and autonomy or independence. We have control over our time and in whom and what we invest it. When thinking of work, school and other “chore-like” activities we have looming ahead of us during the week, we may feel as if we didn’t have any say in our lives or control over how we spend our time – which, justifiably, is a disheartening thought, to say the least.
Weekends also bring emotion-related fulfillment in addition to task-related fulfillment. We usually reserve that time to be with the ones we care about as well as engage in spiritually rewarding activities such as worship or meditation. This may also be the time we devote to ourselves – resting, recharging, engaging in hobbies and pleasurable pursuits that we do not get around to during the week, typically. Our work and school activities, or the folks we associate with them, may not provide us with the same sense of purpose and self-actualization, causing the feelings of disconnectedness and, possibly, purposelessness.
At a glance, we seem to plan and group our most pleasant and anticipated activities around the weekends while reserving the “drudgery” for our weekdays. And as the pioneer of the weekdays, Monday gets the raw deal of being the scapegoat of this imbalance. This brings us to some ways to help re-balance our lives and feel more content every day of the week:
- First and foremost, put some meaning into your Mondays. If you feel stuck in your job or are unsure why you are in school, it will be tough to get excited about going back for yet another day. Every job has aspects that we love and aspects that we don’t enjoy that much – remind yourself what you love about what you do. Sometimes the answer is, “the paycheck” and that is ok and will have to do. Sometimes we have to force ourselves to remember the bigger picture and the long-term goals we set for ourselves to keep moving forward. Don’t be afraid to continuously ask yourself why you do what you do, and adjust your path according to your answers.
- Plan your Mondays during your Fridays. Don’t watch the clock on Friday or put off this planning activity until Monday morning. Instead, make sure you prepare. Look at your calendar for the week ahead at a glance; see which days will be action-packed and which will be on the lighter side. Clear your desk, clear your head. When you walk in on Monday, it will be easier to tackle the week from an organized standpoint.
- Worst things first. Tackle your hardest tasks at your earliest convenience. That is where that Friday planning will come in handy. If there is something you truly dread doing, take care of it early on, and tell yourself you’re going to reward yourself with something fun or enjoyable after.
- Add some fun to your week. So what is the most mundane or tiring day you’re looking at this week? Be sure to plan something you love doing that day as well. It can be breakfast or lunch with a friend, a movie date, game night with the kiddos, a quick trip to your favorite store, seeing a live band, attending a church event or service, a dinner out, meeting your close friends for a walk, a massage or a workout session, or even something as simple as getting your favorite dessert as a treat for the end of the day. We tend to look forward to the things we love doing, and if you plant these secret little delights throughout the week instead of just saving them for the weekends, you’ll soon be looking forward to every single day and the joys it brings. Also, don’t assume that fun just happens. Schedule it like you do work activities- you will find it harder to skip it and will thank yourself later.
- Take full advantage of technology and convenience. We can do so much from our phone, laptop, tablet, and PC these days. Ordering groceries for pickup or delivery; scheduling appointments; shopping; bills – save time when and where you can so you have more control over it when you need it.
- Don’t overextend yourself. Whether you take work home every weekday or pack your weekends full of housework and chores, remember that balance is key. It’s ok to say no and it’s ok to do nothing every so often. It is also definitely ok to get plenty of sleep! Our bodies and our minds need cycles of work and rest; otherwise, we function at a detriment to ourselves and others.
So the next time we find ourselves less than excited about our Mondays, let’s remember that every day gives us an opportunity to live the way that fulfills us and that helps us discover our best self. If there are other tips or habits that you found helpful in that pursuit, please share in the comments!