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What are the Monday Blues? It’s that feeling of anxiety and dread that starts to show up on Sunday night but comes into full force on Monday morning. It’s likely that ever since childhood, you’ve experienced a familiar routine every single week. On Friday, you begin a period of relaxation and personal freedom which continues until you are thrust back into a structured routine on Monday morning. The structured routine, whether school or work, often comes along with shifting your priorities to the demands of others and periods of focused concentration.
This shift in your personal experience happens over and over again each week, so it’s not at all surprising that many of us have an ingrained stress reaction to Monday mornings. The Monday Blues can happen even when you generally like the work that you are doing. It’s a natural reaction and often is the result of automatic distorted thinking, where the obstacle of going to work or school on Monday morning feels like a bigger barrier in our heads than it likely will be in reality. Fortunately, despite ingrained thinking patterns, you can start to shift your thought patterns over time and lessen the pain of the Monday Blues. I recommend a combination of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques and personal planning systems to help combat the Monday Blues:
Plan in advance.
It’s very difficult to go from zero to one hundred on Monday mornings. You can ease this challenge, by planning out the key goals and tasks for your week on the Friday before the week begins. Block out time in your calendar on Friday afternoon, and create a planning routine (click here to get a step by step guide walking you through this). When you know you already have a plan in place, you have less resistance to overcome on Monday morning. At that point, your only job is to step into action.
When you know you already have a plan in place, you have less resistance to overcome on Monday morning.
Remind yourself of past successes.
I can almost guarantee that you’ve successfully completed many Mondays and many workweeks in the past. Simply reminding yourself of that can minimize the Monday Blues. The mind tends to exaggerate how painful or difficult a situation may be. Many of us put a lot of energy into dreading tasks that end up not being that difficult or painful when we get around to doing them. Reminding yourself of your past successes can to reduce this feeling of dread.
Find one thing to look forward to on Monday.
This could really be anything. It could be a special cup of coffee. It could be snacks at the office. It could be chatting with your coworkers. You want to focus on something that gives you a spark of joy. Really visualize this and imagine how good it will feel. When you start to feel the Monday Blues come on, focus your attention on the one thing you are excited about.
When you start to feel the Monday Blues come on, focus your attention on the one thing you are excited about.
Find some quick wins.
One of the challenges of Monday mornings is building up momentum when you have not been thinking about work for a couple of days. Momentum comes from action. Find a couple of small tasks that you can quickly check off the list at the beginning of your day. I call these “Knock Out/Cross Out” (or KO/XO) sessions. Set a timer for 30 minutes and get as many things done during that time as possible.
Write it out.
The general anxiety of the Monday Blues is almost always difficult to deal with in the abstract. It becomes much easier to deal with when you can pinpoint the specific thing that is causing anxiety. A useful tool for doing this is to write out what you’re thinking and feeling. Grab a notebook and write down every thought you have for a five-minute period. Then take a step back and reflect on the thoughts you’ve written down. Are they objectively true, or is there some distorted thinking? If you uncover something you can take action on to resolve, do so. If not, try to reframe your thinking to lessen the stress/anxiety and flip it in a positive way.
Despite our conditioning and the common societal narrative, Mondays don’t have to be painful. In fact, they can be energizing and exciting with the right orientation and mindset. There is a high likelihood that you will have many, many more Mondays in your life (and I hope you do!). So, it’s worth it to invest some time into taking these steps and improving your overall mindset towards the Monday Blues. Good luck!
Take Action! If you’re currently experiencing the Monday Blues, take a minute to look at your day ahead and pick ONE thing that you are excited about. Write that down on a piece of paper or in your phone.