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Rupa Mehta

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Roadmap for the Work Week

Posted: 09/30/2013 3:24 pm

It is so easy to refer to our weeks as either "good" or "bad," but every week is a journey, filled with highs and lows, opportunities to be happy and in control, and excuses to feel stressed or misunderstood. Just as words can be "heavy" or "light," so too can your week's journey! Thinking of each day as a leg of the journey could help in lightening your emotional diet and creating the ideal week in which the "to dos" of life become rewarding and manageable.

Maybe you've got a Manic Monday this week... why not make it a Mighty Monday? Could your Warring Wednesday become a Winning Wednesday? The list goes on: make your Tuesday Tranquil, your Thursday Thoughtful. Let Fridays be fit and fun, and certainly find a way to be Smiling on Saturday. No matter what kind of week you're having, compartmentalizing each day and giving yourself the opportunity to positively change each "leg" is possible. Like a good wine and cheese, each day of the week can be paired with a complementary exercise (either mental or physical) that can transform and better it. Let's break it down.

Sunday: It's Sunday night. Maybe you've laid out your clothes, packed lunch for the next day, sent the last email of the night and settled into bed for a bit of shut-eye. So why can't you sleep?! If you're like many people, Sunday is the hardest night of the week to fall asleep. Stressing out on Sunday night sets you up for a major work week traffic jam. Who wants to start Monday off groggy and unfocused?!

There are active choices you can make to turn a Sleepless Sunday into a wonderfully Sleep-filled Sunday. A great choice to make is to pair Sunday with some quality to-do list time. Physically write down your list -- the major events, the things that need to get done and the things you want to get done. Accept your goals but also accept the possibility that everything might not get completed.

Try to make sure that there's a good balance between the things you do and things that are good for you on your list: that's a recipe for success. Your list can be your mental exercise, but for those of you looking for more physical engagement on Sunday, consider a vinyasa flow class. This form of yoga gets your heart pumping but also values restorative poses and relaxation -- a great combo for a Sunday! Now that you've mentally prepared for the week it's time to put it away and get some sleep.

Monday:
Now that Monday has arrived, your to-do list is live and running -- the week's journey has begun. Monday can be manic for a variety of reasons: maybe your list now seems daunting, maybe your boss added three new things to that list, maybe your sister needs you to watch the kids... that's fine! Take the opportunity to turn a Manic Monday into a Mighty one. Feel empowered by the fact that so many people find you capable and responsible.

On Monday morning you'll find out if your journey is set or if you have to make a small detour or two. Remember, there's a whole week ahead to accomplish your tasks. Pair Monday with a walk outside. The combination of exercise and fresh air (preferably during a mid-afternoon break from work) will rejuvenate your mind and body. Even 15 minutes can refresh your senses and ready you for the rest of the day. When you return to your desk, you'll likely have prioritized certain tasks for the rest of your day, and before you know it, they're complete! From Manic to Mighty? It's a walk in the park!

Tuesday:
By Tuesday, your week is really taking shape. Many people I know see Tuesday as a slower day both mentally and physically, and as a result, tensions can run high. Make the choice to avoid a Testy Tuesday -- let it be Tranquil. On Monday, you made the necessary adjustments for your week's journey and on Tuesday, you've got to put them into action! Tuesday can test your ability to stay on track. Knowing that Tuesday can be a bump in the road, wake up preparing to try your best. And sometimes you need a little help to get a kickstart! Tuesday is a perfect day to challenge your body and mind with an intense cardio or bootcamp type of class. The high-intensity of these kinds of classes will allow you to combat and then release stress and ready you for the rest of your week. With so many varieties -- kickboxing, interval training, dance-based classes, even a challenging run -- you can choose what's right for you. Use exercise on Tuesday to bring energy into the week, into your body and into your mind.

Wednesday:
At halfway to the weekend, you're over the hump! By this day, you should be truly enjoying the week's journey. Hopefully your Monday was Mighty and your Tuesday was Tranquil, but if not, choose to make Wednesday Winning. There may be things left to do, but you've accomplished a lot so far this week! With half of your journey left, it's important to keep your energy up. Choosing the right foods throughout the day can provide you with lasting energy and focus. First off, don't skip breakfast! Depriving yourself of needed energy before a long day is like intentionally flattening one of your tires before taking a road trip. Combine a complex carbohydrate with protein and a good fat for a filling, nutritious start to your day -- try stirring a tablespoon of peanut butter into your morning oatmeal.

Secondly, allow yourself snack breaks! You might be surprised that eating an apple at 10:30 a.m. or some cheese and crackers around 3:00 p.m. can make your just as (or even more!) alert as a cup of coffee can. And if you can manage all that, and even if you can't, try to couple Wednesday with "friend time" -- get together with your pals for a little mid-week decompression and fun. It might energize you even more than that 3 o'clock snack!

Thursday:
By Thursday, the week is winding down, and you might be, too. Thursday is like Sunday in terms of the need for some mental preparation. Return to your list, untangle anything left undone, and prepare for your final day before the weekend. Thursday's goal should be getting grounded and centered, using the Tranquil sensations and Winning attitude built by Tuesday and Wednesday. Thoughtful Thursday allows you to reassess the week. What have you gotten done? Maybe it's more than what you expected! Maybe it's less. And either direction is okay. To achieve a Thoughtful Thursday instead of a Thankless one, pair the day with a mini-meditation. That's right, you don't need to make time for a full yoga class in order to reap the benefits of meditation. You can do breathing exercises at your desk.

Close your eyes, take 10 to 15 deep, even breaths and think about just one thing. While clearing your mind completely is best, a singular focus can have just as rewarding an effect. When you bring your attention back to your surroundings and eventually back to work, remember this mindful state. You are in charge. This mini-meditation is your most useful tool for a Thoughtful Thursday. This mindfulness and focus will lead you to victory!

Like on Sunday, a mental exercise may not be enough to get you back on track. If you're feeling this way, add something new to this week's routine! Maybe so far you've done yoga, taken a walk, and gotten your heart pumping in a cardio class. Pair Thursday with a Pilates or barre-method class. These classes are all about specificity and targeting certain parts of your body for long, lean muscles, so they will complement the mindfulness and focus you've channeled with your mini-meditation!

Friday:
What a week it's been! By the end of the week, there's a lot to be thankful for -- they don't say T.G.I.F. for nothing! In the same way that you allotted time for a walk, a yoga class, a nice meal and a mini-meditation, take time on Friday to say thank you. Maybe you're thankful for the coworker who volunteered to help you out on a project. Or maybe you're thankful for your roommate who took on the grocery shopping this week. You might even be thankful that it didn't rain on the day you forgot your umbrella. The point is, take a little time to truly appreciate what you can. So often we forget to say thank you for the less obvious moments in our lives, but your journey can be much sweeter if you're in tune with everything that deserves a little bit of gratitude. Friday's pairing is a free-for-all! Choose what kind of positive intention you want to put into this day. Is your Friday Fit, Fancy, Fun? Be it a new fitness class, a glamorous evening out or a concert at night, reward yourself on Friday for a job well done this week.

Saturday:
While not necessarily a "reward," do something for yourself on this day. If you've taken each opportunity this week to transform your days, there's no reason your Saturday shouldn't be Smiling. Think of Saturday as your journey's destination. You've earned this day, and you are in control of how you spend it. The one thing you shouldn't do on your Saturday is to make it Stressful! Pair this restful weekend day with something that makes you Smile. Have that Froyo you've been craving, see a movie everyone's been talking about, go get a great workout -- you made it! Saturday is a day to tie up any loose ends on your list, but it's also a day to relax.

And before you know it, Sunday night comes back around. It's time to pack your bag and make your list, preparing for the week ahead. Even if you follow a routine, no two Mondays are ever the same. There's a lot in this world that we can't control, but what we can control are our choices. Make positive choices: choose a mini-meditation, choose to say thank you, choose to eat well. These daily tools are meant to help along your week's journey. Any good roadmap has structure and suggestions, but that doesn't mean you can't choose to detour, and it doesn't mean you won't hit a roadblock. What's important is to accept each day for what it is and to be present in it -- don't fixate on yesterday or stress about tomorrow. Choose to be the best you can be in the moment.

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