Every Monday morning, across the world, scores of people wake up with a sense of dread. The Monday morning blues refer to a kind of mild depression people feel when it’s time to go back to work or school. They wake up with no enthusiasm for the day and in fact, dread the day.
The term Monday Blues describe a set of negative emotions that many people get at the beginning of the workweek if they’re not happy at work. It contains elements of depression, tiredness, hopelessness and a sense that work is unpleasant but unavoidable. Monday morning blues need not only happen on a Monday, but can happen any time of the week
A 2018 LinkedIn survey found that 80% of professionals experience what they called the Sunday Scaries, a prelude to the Monday morning blues. The Monday Blues are so prevalent that they have become a cultural phenomenon, but they can be much more than just passing tiredness; they are often a serious warning sign that something is not right at work. If you were happy, you’d be excited and energised on Mondays, not tired and depressed. If one is feeling under-appreciated or unsatisfied with their job, it can be especially difficult to start another seemingly endless workweek. And the case of the Monday Blues can have a negative impact on performance and productivity, as well as the people around us.
Countless studies in psychology and neurology have shown that a person’s current emotional state has a huge effect on the quality of their work and when they’re feeling blue they are less productive, less motivated, more pessimistic, less creative, less engaged and learn more slowly. The Monday Blues are contagious and one’s stress or bad mood can drastically change the overall work environment. When one is unhappy at work, it makes it very difficult for those around them to be happy, and oftentimes just one worker with a case of the Mondays can spread the doldrums to the whole team.
So what can one do to help overcome the Monday blues? Read on.
Identify the problem. If you have the Monday Blues most weeks, then this is not something you should laugh off or just live with. It’s a significant sign that you are unhappy at work and you need to fix it or move on and find another job. You need to ask yourself what is wrong and start with making a list of the things that are causing this stress and clarifying what is bothering you can help in trying to be active in finding solutions. It’s a way of empowering one to take charge and try to improve the situation.
Continue with your normal routine over the weekend. One of the reasons why Mondays are so hard is because we often leave all of our normal eating, sleeping, and exercise habits over the weekend. When we eat more, richer food and eat late drink and sleep and wake up late over the weekend, then when Monday morning comes, this catches up and we feel out of sorts. Not to say that this should not be done, but a balance should be found which lets us unwind while still keeping up with major routines.
Disconnect over the weekend. If you are constantly thinking of work and checking work emails when you should be using the weekend to relax, it’s a sign we are setting ourselves up for burnout sooner or later. When we feel stressed just thinking of work on Sunday, it’s a clear indication that we need to have stricter boundaries between work and play. One way to break the habit is to try turning off email notifications on Friday evening and unplugging from any work-related problems to focus on personal time over the weekend. Drawing clearly defined boundaries between work and personal time can help keep things in check.
As a piece of contrary advice to the above one, sometimes, when you know you have a big week ahead of you, you can get a head start on important tasks, but only if it is absolutely necessary. Maybe an hour or so on Sunday to plan the week and get some work done to take some of the pressure off come Monday. If this is something you would do once a while, make sure you spend one day relaxing and then work a bit the other day. You can also prepare for the next week on Friday evenings, by taking five or 10 minutes to prepare for the next week by straightening up the workspace, tying up loose ends and making a to-do list. Investing this time will help ease the mind for the next 48 hours.
If Monday mornings or Sunday evenings are usually scary and full of anxiety, then take some time to really think about what’s causing this anxiety. When you are able to figure that out, it’s easier to focus on what’s within your control, not on what’s beyond it and certainly not on that which might be based merely on fiction. Although it might seem counter-intuitive, waking up an extra 15 to 30 minutes early on Monday morning can actually make going back to the office easier. Having a little more ‘me time’ instead of feeling like you’re trapped in a time crunch can make that transition a little easier.
Another way to help combat that Monday morning anxiety is to be sure to leave as few dreadful tasks as possible on Friday afternoon so by taking care of the things you least want to handle at the end of one workweek, you’re making the start of the next that much better.
Don’t mess with your sleep cycle. An obvious thing, but not feeling well-rested can have a huge impact on how you feel come Monday morning. Experts advise keeping the sleep and wake schedule close to what it is during the week to avoid messing up your internal clock. Also, it is recommended that you wake up at the same time each day, even over weekends, so your body internal clock is still in sync. Even if you are unable to stick to the exact same routine, avoid going to bed more than an hour or two later than you would during the week.
Avoid overscheduling on Monday. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed when you’re flooded with meetings after coming back from a relaxing weekend, so whenever possible, try to avoid scheduling meetings or big tasks on Monday. It is also a good idea to make sure all the tasks scheduled for the week are completed before you start enjoying your weekend. If this is an issue, then using time management tools may help track activities and schedule events easily. This will help you to come into Monday with more ease from the weekend. Instead of tackling the biggest and most complicated tasks early on Monday, take some time for easier, more routine stuf. This might get you up and running and give you the energy for the more difficult or unpleasant tasks. But if you do have any unpleasant tasks awaiting your attention Monday morning, get them done as early as possible so that you don’t spend the rest of the day procrastinating or feeling as if there’s a black cloud hanging over your head. You’ll feel a lot better once it’s over.
Have fun at work. Take it upon yourself to do things that you enjoy in the office on Monday. Create an event that you will look forward to on Mondays as a way to break up the day with some known positivity. At the very least, it gives you a chance to take a deep breath, talk with a friend, and regroup for the rest of the day.
Write down your feelings. When our minds are overactive and we start overthinking, we can’t relax and destress, especially over the weekend. In such cases, jotting down your worries, can calm the mind and even make you more productive. I generally use Google Docs for this, but you can use the good old pen and paper or any other way to write down your thoughts and once you do that, the concerns and anxieties will feel much smaller and more manageable and the mind is clearer and calmer. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, the simple act of journaling can help to manage anxiety, reduce stress and cope with depression.
Another way to beat the Monday Blues is to make a list of the things you’re excited about. We often look at the week ahead of us and think of all the tough stuff we have to do and the difficult tasks ahead of us, so we can just turn that around. On Sunday evening, make a list of three things you look forward to at work that week and this might put you in a more positive mood. If you can’t think of three things you look forward to, that might be an indication that you need to make some changes.
Dress for success. Mondays are when you should wear your favourite or a new outfit. It will perks you up and lets you be positive and also help others be positive. This can also help build your confidence because when you look good, you feel good and feeling good about yourself is half of the battle on Monday mornings, because rather than being deflated by work you want to face it with confidence.
Start the week out with an attitude of gratitude and take time to recognise and appreciate the things that you enjoy about work. Be positive and start even before you get into work. Try listening to favourite songs, with some upbeat, high-energy music into your morning preparation or commute to pump yourself up. And when you get into office, don’t listen to other people’s Monday gripes because creating or contributing to a culture of complaining is no way to improve your attitude. Make someone else happy and do something nice for someone else as soon as you get to work on Monday. This will definitely can lift the spirits and could actually help shift the overall mood. Research shows that according to positive psychology one of the best ways to cheer yourself up is to make someone else happy.
Have a post-work plan. Your day shouldn’t just be about trudging through Monday to get it over with, but about looking forward to something. By making Monday a special day where you get to go out with friends, make your favourite dinner, or eat a bowl of popcorn and catch up on a TV show you recorded, the day doesn’t have to be all about getting up to go into the office.
So here are some things you can do to get out the funk of the Monday Blues and have a great week.
Great post! I definitely suffer from Sunday Scaries and Monday Blues, and can definitely relate. But sometimes, I’ve found that it’s ME that’s the problem. I’m either not pursuing my own life goals, or there’s something lacking in my life that’s contributing to my dread. Anyway, thanks for this!
Well said Stuart! Thanks for reading and commenting