It's Sunday night. You're feeling full, you're relaxed, and you're binge-watching Outlander. But in the morning, it will be Monday, and you know what that means. It means Monday morning blues — for real!
In fact, a recent Monster poll found most of us (76 percent) have something we can call “anticipatory anxiety” just thinking about Monday morning. Here are a few quotes I’ve collected over time from people I've spoken to about the Monday blues:
- “On Sunday, I start to wrench up about four pm to seven pm, and it’s a lot tougher to go to sleep than on a Friday night.”
- “It is more the anticipation of the whole work week ahead of you and the commute, getting the kids out to school, and just getting back into everything you have to do.”
- “Commuting is the worst. The traffic on a Monday morning is just unbearable.”
- “For me, it’s just anxiety of the separation from the children and getting back to the whole work week and running around at 100 miles per hour.”
- “I’m going through IVF. Just imagine what Monday is like knowing I have to squeeze in all the appointments while I’m on a hormonal rollercoaster!”
- “We go from no schedule to an overloaded schedule – and that’s just the kids! I have to make sure they get to everything and then home — and I have to do it from the office! And then there’s my schedule.”
- “The worst part about Mondays is just getting back into the grind. I mean, getting up early, taking the train from New Jersey, and putting in a good 14 or 15 hours away from home.”
If you are thinking this can't be healthy, well you’re right. Researchers say that Mondays can be so stressful that they can actually be hazardous to your health.
Here are a few symptoms you may feel if you have the Monday blues:
- Blood pressure jumps.
- Respiratory issues may get worse, especially for people who have asthma and allergies, because they go back into pollution.
- Morning headaches are more likely.
- Brain fog is reported.
- Moodiness increases.
- Those who work primarily from home, including full-time homemakers, say they often feel more down and depressed on Mondays because they lose adult company.
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Lastly, a recent Swedish study found that most heart attacks happen on Mondays. The study tracked 156,000 hospital admissions for a heart attack over seven years, and found an 11 percent increase in first-time heart attack risk for Mondays.
Let's talk about how to avoid the Monday morning crash and achieve better health.
1. First, plan ahead.
When your sense of control goes up, stress goes down. Your Monday blues are likely worse if you are going through something you can’t control, like fertility treatment, a parent’s illness, or project deadlines. Clear out your inbox, clear off your desk, and do your least favorite errands on Friday, because it’s too easy to put work off until Monday and then start the week overwhelmed.
2. Next, make lists.
Lots of lists, for two reasons. One, because items on a list don't have to be remembered and remembering is very distracting and takes a lot of psychological energy. Second, because items on a list can be checked off — which feels good.
3. Try to get up at the same time on the weekends as you would on the weekdays, no matter what time you go to sleep.
Every hour of disrupted wake-up time adds a full day of readjustment to your circadian rhythms (body clock), mood and alertness.
4. Then, before you get out of bed on Monday morning, take five minutes to do progressive relaxation.
Start by relaxing your toes, then your feet, then calves and thighs and so forth to the top of your head. It will not only unwind your anticipatory anxiety, but it will also remind you how you feel when you are not stressed and, make you more likely to recognize and stop stress when it begins to creep up on you.
5. Pace yourself.
If you weave more exercise, pauses and play into the work week, the contrast with your weekend won't be as great. If you can't give yourself permission to do all this, I give you permission, because Mondays are here to stay.
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