Ugh, Mondays are the worst, amirite? People make a living selling coffee mugs professing the owner’s antipathy towards the first day of the standard Western work week. Scroll through your Facebook feed, and you’re bound to see a cat that has fallen on its face and is in no mood to get up because that’s just how much this cat and Mondays don’t get along, and/or a sunrise photo of a lithe young woman in a yoga pose with a motivational quote intended to help the reader conquer their own Monday. Millions of people find themselves starting the work week off on the wrong foot; slogging through their day with a bad case of the Mondays.
If your Mondays feel more like the lethargic cat than the sunrise yoga pose, I have a question for you. Several questions, as a matter of fact.
The first question being, did you know it doesn’t have to be like that?
Why everyone hates Mondays
I have a secret for you: not everyone hates Mondays. I know that this feels viscerally wrong, but deep down you know that this isn’t a secret at all; most lethargic cats have at least one coworker who seems to be a perpetual sunrise yogi, so although the concept is completely foreign to you; you’re aware that these strange creatures exist.
The purpose of this article is to arm you with some self-reflection questions to get to the bottom of your anti-Monday attitude (often it seems like Monday is the one with an anti-you attitude – this will be discussed below), and hopefully replace the associated misery with a more positive sentiment.
What are you feeling as your alarm goes off on Monday morning?
Many of us have a very specific answer to this question, and for people who have never gotten the hang of Mondays, it usually ranges between a vague “blah” feeling to complete and utter dread. Listen to what the lethargic cat in your head is actually saying: “Ugh, another day at this lame job. There are a thousand things I could be doing that would be a better use of my time.” “Ugh, this job is so beneath me.” “Ugh, I do not have it in me to put up with my boss today.” “Ugh, another day sitting next to Bob and hearing him complain about everything.” “Ugh, another double shift, this job is so exhausting.”
Listen to it carefully, because you can’t fix a problem unless you have clearly defined it.
What are you doing about those feelings?
No one would ever admit they enjoy feeling miserable, yet week after week, we go through the same motions and the same thoughts that left us hating last Monday, and the one before that. Monday isn’t going to get better by itself – you have to do something about it.
There are two ways you can go about it, and the one that’s right for you will depend on your individual circumstances. You can change your external circumstances, or you can change your internal response to your current ones.
What is keeping you from changing your circumstances?
Miserable Monday people usually have an inertia problem. Now, there are definitely dire circumstances where the risk of change is simply unacceptable, in which case you’ll have to settle for internal changes until you get your head above water. But most people continue to drag themselves reluctantly out of bed to go to a job they don’t care about or even hate because of inertia. What is your source of inertia? Is your soulless job more comfortable than the discomfort of taking a risk and looking for a new one? Are you afraid of failure if you try to venture out on your own? Does it just seem like too much of a hassle to leave?
How are you going to change internally?
Changing your reflexive response to the Monday blues from the inside is your only shot if your extreme circumstances are truly keeping you from making a change at this point in your life. And if you happen to be in a situation where making an external change is possible, compounding it with internal change will make you that much more successful.
Every time you allow yourself to indulge your negative thoughts, you are strengthening the neuronal connections that created them. Using techniques to keep these thoughts in check will gradually lead to an overall more positive attitude, which is helpful whether you are planning to find a new job, start your own business, or stay put and make the most of what you’ve got.
Here are some techniques that you might find productive and helpful:
Catch yourself when those negative thoughts come into your head and play devil’s advocate; try to reframe them and find some positive or at least neutral aspect in them. “Ugh, another day sitting next to Bob and hearing him complain about everything… then again, he’s never mentioned a wife or family or any friends outside the office. Complaining to me might be the only social interaction he has all day. In this example, reframing the thought in a way that makes you feel more compassionate to Bob’s situation can make listening to him complain all day more bearable.
Cognitive behavioral therapy; this is a psychological technique based on the relationship between a person’s thoughts and behaviors. It is particularly useful when those automatic thoughts that pop into your head when you think about work are thoughts that you objectively know are overblown or irrational, but you still can’t help dwelling on them.
Gratitude lists; this is very simple and can be very effective (it’s the first thing I turn to when I find myself in a gloomy mood for an extended period of time). It’s much easier than some of the other things that are supposed to help with depression and negative feelings, like physical exercise and social interaction, which can seem like impossible feats when you’re in your Monday abyss. Just pick up a pen and paper and write a few sentences each night about things you are grateful for. It doesn’t even have to be work-related to be effective at boosting your mood at work.
Sunday night planning; many people’s Monday morning dread can be chalked up to feeling unprepared and overwhelmed. If you can take a few minutes on Sunday to create a plan of action for Monday; that’s half the battle.
Are you living a double life?
If life as you know it revolves around the weekend; and Monday through Friday are just a means to an end, this is a double life. You’re certainly not alone in living this way, but it isn’t sustainable. This is a sign that you need to make some major changes in your weekday life; because you shouldn’t settle for only enjoying 29% of your life. Finding a fulfilling job – or creating one yourself as an entrepreneur – can completely turn your life around. You’ll be more motivated to live “in the moment” and enjoy the journey; instead of running on the proverbial hamster wheel until you reach some vaguely defined point in your life when you can finally stop and enjoy your life.