“Blue Monday.” “Rainy Days and Mondays.” “Manic Monday.” Except for Jimmy Buffett’s hopeful “come Monday, it’ll be all right” the first day of the week gets little love.
The third Monday in January is reputed to be the most depressing 24 hours of the year, though that’s often dismissed as pseudoscience hyped by a good marketing campaign. It also could have something to do with the arrival of post-holiday bills.
It turns out, though, there’s scientific evidence supporting the common belief that Monday is indeed the worst day of the week.
Monday trauma typically stems from a combination of sleep deprivation, overly hectic Saturday and Sunday schedules and other unhealthy habits during weekends. The Monday Blues are even worse if you hate your job.
So is there a solution to the Monday scaries? Yes. While it might not be possible to embrace Mondays like a long-lost friend, there are ways to make the transition back into work a little easier.
The safest option is to keep your weekend schedule closely aligned to weekdays—even parenting experts advise letting children sleep in no longer than an hour on Saturdays and Sundays in order to avoid the Monday bends. Frankly, that’s boring for many adults.
A more workable option is to blow it out on Friday or Saturday and force yourself to get up close-ish to brunch on Sundays. You’re going to suffer from sleep deprivation at some point, and it’s better to do it in the cozy confines of your own home than to sit bleary-eyed at your desk on Monday praying that the caffeine kicks in soon.
Loading up the Sunday schedule with must-dos is another factor in creating Monday scaries. It’s tempting to put off chores—house cleaning, laundry, yard work—as long as possible in pursuit of weekend happiness. This can explode a stress bomb when you’re frantically trying to get everything done and ready for the week ahead. Try tackling a little of the to-do list on Saturday or even assign some tasks to weeknights or early mornings.
Grocery shopping is another very bad thing to push off to the weekend. Research indicates that Saturday is the busiest day at the market, and anecdotal evidence indicates that Sundays aren’t much better. The best time to go? Between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. on weeknights. It takes a little bit of a “tough it up” attitude to head for the supermarket after a long day at work, but you’ll be glad you did when you’re relaxing at home instead of fighting shopping-cart rage in over-crowded aisles on the weekends.
Another key to a smoother return to work begins at work itself. While it’s not always possible to literally or figuratively clear your desk on Fridays, try to at least dispense with the least-pleasant tasks so they aren’t hanging over your head at the start of a new week.
Sometimes, though, it’s not the work but the job itself. If you’re awake until the wee hours tossing and turning as thoughts of dread fill your head, that’s a signal to start sending resumes. While there are some steps you can take to cope in the interim, chances are that a change of scenery will help change your attitude about Mondays.