You’d think we’d have come to terms with Monday by now. Technically, it’s no different than any other weekday—it has the same number of hours, the same responsibilities and demands, interactions with many of the same people, the same opportunities to excel and shine. Even so, there’s just something about the first day of the traditional workweek that tends to elicit feelings of gloom and doom, as we mourn the end of the "freedom" of the weekend and a return to the "daily grind."
In fact, one study found that Monday morning at 11:17 a.m. was the time when respondents felt the most unhappy. And in a recent survey by a sleep organization, 81 percent of employees said they felt "elevated anxiety on Sunday in anticipation of Monday."
But that doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to starting off each week down in the dumps. By making some small, intentional changes in your mindset and behavior, you can put an end to Monday morning melancholy and shift your focus to a fresh start.
Get a head-start on your Monday morning tasks on Friday.
By taking some time on Friday afternoon to put a dent in Monday morning’s to-do list, you can start the workweek ahead of the game instead of scrambling to catch up. Even just an hour of proactive planning can help you feel prepared and confident as the weekend winds down.
Set a positive intention.
Before starting your day, take a few moments alone to let go of all the stress of the prior week, recommends Dr. Heidi McKenzie, a licensed psychologist with Integrity Psychological Services. "Take a few deep, cleansing breaths and let it go. Then, set a positive intention for the week to come," she advises. "Focus on how you would like to feel over the coming days. Calmer? More grateful? More kind?"
One example of an intention might be: "This week, I will remain focused and aware of all the positive things each day brings me." Write it down and post it in a place where you can see it each morning, like on your bathroom mirror, at your desk or on a bulletin board. This subtle daily reminder will put your goals at the front of your mind before you even head out the door.
Go to bed on time.
If you are in a place where you dread the start of the workweek, you may find yourself delaying going to bed on Sunday night to avoid Monday’s inevitable arrival—but that will only make you feel more tired and less able to confront whatever it is you are dreading in the long run, warns Dr. McKenzie. "Turn off the TV, unplug from your devices and create a Sunday evening ritual that helps you ease into your week [instead]," she suggests.
Practice moderation during the weekend.
While the weekend is a time to relax the rules a bit, resist the urge to make it a two-day free-for-all. If you overindulge regularly on Saturdays and Sundays, Monday will feel even more like a punishment, particularly as you grapple with the guilt that comes with unhealthy living. Enjoy the weekends, but give your body the healthy fuel it needs to start off the workweek strong.
Find a way to make Mondays special.
Licensed professional clinical counselor Lisa Bahar suggests incorporating a small way to add some joy to the start of each week. This might mean making your favorite breakfast or stopping for your favorite kind of coffee or tea on the way to work, but be sure to limit your mini celebration to this one day. "Be disciplined about enjoying this weekly treat only on Mondays and over time you will grow to look forward to it," she says.
Make exercise part of your weekends.
Whether it’s a spinning class, a yoga session or just a brisk walk around the neighborhood, carve out some time for physical activity on Saturday and Sunday. You’ll boost your mood, burn some extra calories and start the new week feeling strong and accomplished.
Set a Sunday evening transition time.
For many of us, Sundays are often filled with chores like laundry, meal prep and last-minute logistics, but doing these too late in the evening only sets you up for that inevitable feeling of exhaustion and dread when the alarm goes off in the morning, says Dr. McKenzie.
Instead, she suggests setting aside some time on Sunday evening that is intentionally designed to help you transition into the next week. Even 10 or 20 minutes at the end of the day can go a long way toward helping you ease into the workweek with a fresh mind.
Make it fun with music.
To bust the Monday blues, Dr. Bahar suggests cultivating a sense of humor and not taking the day too seriously. One idea is to create a playlist of Monday-themed songs and listening to it during your first commute of the week.
Make a gratitude list.
As you head into Monday morning, Dr. McKenzie suggests making a list of things for which you feel gratitude. The more specific, the better—and they don’t have to be big things. Some examples might be, "I appreciate the view of the trees from my office" or "I am grateful for the kindness and support of my team." Start by just writing one or two things you're grateful for on Sunday night, then increase it by one every other week. Soon, you'll see how many good things you have going for you and Monday won't seem so bad in the grand scheme of things.
Do a good deed for someone else.
When you do something to make someone else’s day easier or more enjoyable, you will likely benefit from the ripple effect of goodwill. If someone else seems to be stressed or struggling as they grapple with their own Monday malaise, offer to lend a hand or simply share a compliment or word of support.
Consider a bigger change.
If you’ve tried incorporating these tips and still struggle with a perpetual case of the Mondays, it may be time to dig deeper and identify what lifestyle changes may be in order. "Is there a larger life issue that needs to be addressed?" asks Dr. McKenzie. "Do you need to change jobs? Or switch to a new career altogether? If so, talking to a mental health professional may be helpful in figuring out next steps to support you in actually looking forward to Monday mornings to see what the coming week might bring."