If on most Monday mornings you'd like to jump into a time machine and go backward in time two days, you're not alone. For many the work-week-dread kicks in Sunday afternoon as you start anticipating another five days at the office.
Where did the weekend go? You might have done quite a bit, but never quite got around to getting the rest and relaxation you need and now it's time to start all over. You're tired but can't shut off your mind to get to sleep early (sleeping in on Sunday morning probably didn't help) and you already know how awful you'll feel when the alarm goes off on Monday morning.
What's Going On?
We pack our schedules from Monday to Friday, anticipating that when the weekend rolls around we'll be able to unwind and get some rest, and then we discover that this rarely happens. While there's a lot to be said for delayed gratification, a long stretch of all-work-and-no-play will inevitably backfire.
This week-to-week grind leaves us feeling over-tired, over-scheduled and not able to enjoy life. For many, even while experiencing weekend fun, we dread the numerous tasks with which we'll be hammered on Monday morning.
What You Can Do About the Monday Blues
Get out of the "living for the weekend" mindset. This only reinforces negative feelings towards the work week. What's more, this mindset sets unreasonable expectations for the weekend: Instead of being able to enjoy your time off, you feel pressured to make the most of it and, at the same time, feel anxious about having to return to work on Monday.
Find ways to make your workdays less crowded. You can't do it all in 24 hours, and there really is no reason to try. Decide what's a top priority and what you can let go. If you have children, remember that they benefit from downtime during the week as well.
Manage your time during your workday so that you can be more efficient. For example, consider checking and returning emails and voice mail messages in batches at certain times of the day instead of continuously throughout the day as you receive them. This will reduce the interruptions and help you stay focused on the task at hand.
Give yourself a mid-week break. Five days is too long to go without having a break. Set aside something fun and relaxing to which you can look forward at the week's mid-point. Not only will this give you a chance to unwind, this will make the time between breaks feel shorter and easier to manage.
This can consist of almost anything you enjoy: Maybe a girl's night out, a family movie night, taking a pottery class, trying out a new restaurant with a group of friends or simply enjoying a romantic evening with your spouse or loved one.
Take small breaks daily. Even something as small as going for a short walk at lunch instead of staying at your desk can provide a change of scenery that will help ward off stress and keep you from feeling overwhelmed with work. Don't underestimate the benefit of periodically taking time to mentally and emotionally recharge and refocus.
Also, don't feel selfish for doing this. If, for example, taking time to unwind before facing an hour of grid-lock traffic after work will help get you through the evening without losing your mind, then go for it.
Allow for enough time on weekends to relax. You can't recharge your batteries if you're always using them. This might mean eliminating some activities or finding ways to outsource household chores, like cleaning and yard-work.
If you set aside time during the work week for fun, you'll be less likely to feel like you have to pack your weekends full of fun activities. Even a weekend of too many fun activities can drain you, leaving you feeling unrested. Make an effort to plan your weekend activities with events that leave you feeling content and fulfilled, not frazzled and imposed upon.
Don't stay up late on the weekends. Just because you can sleep in the next morning shouldn't give you permission to go to bed late the night before.
Who can resist the temptation to sleep in? Unfortunately, this luxury comes at a high price: An upset sleep schedule can take a week to get back on track, and allowing your sleep schedule to fall apart again the next weekend sets you up for a merry-go-round sleep ride that'll end up leaving you feeling perpetually tired.
Sticking to the same sleep schedule, regardless of the day of the week, will help you remain rested and energized during the week. What's more, you might just find yourself being an early-bird on the weekends and actually liking it!
Determine whether you really like your job. If you still find yourself dreading Mondays no matter what you do, then maybe it's time to think about a career change. True, this isn't exactly an ideal economy in which to think about switching jobs or careers. But if your job leaves you feeling miserable, taking positive steps toward changing your situation can help you feel more in control and better able to cope with the day to day grind, and even possibly see it less of a grind.
A Final Thought
For better or worse, more time is spent at work than anywhere else. So it's certainly worth your effort to carefully access how this time is spent so that you can find creative ways to enjoy your work days and not spend another Sunday afternoon dreading the next day.
Make every day count, and don't just live for the weekends.
Follow Tracey Marks, M.D. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/traceymarksmd