Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there was a folk-rock group called The Mamas and Papas. One of their big hits was a tune called Monday, Monday, which suggested that while every other day of the week was fine, Mondays could not be trusted. Many of us feel that way when our alarm jolts us awake at the end of the weekend and we beg the gods of work for just five more minutes’ solace under the covers. It’s safe to say many Canadian workers feel at least a twinge on those Sunday nights that aren’t part of a long weekend. Others feel much more than a twinge.

Does your work life feel like a modern-day embodiment of the Greek legend of Sisyphus, doomed to push a boulder up a hill only to see it roll back down repeatedly for all eternity?  Do you start the week wishing it were already Friday? Do you mark off each day as one step closer to the weekend? The knowledge that you’re not alone probably won’t really make you feel better.

People who love what they do and enjoy where they work generally welcome Monday and look forward to what the workweek brings.  They bring their best to the job, feel empowered and valued, are eager to learn new things and produce quality work. They draw people to them and are generally positive and engaged. Do you find yourself wishing you were one of those people?

are your feelings deeper than a case of monday blues?

The first thing to do is assess the extent of your blues. If you’re just sorry the weekend is over, you’re probably pretty satisfied with your job and life as a whole. If you’re constantly tired or clutch a dread-filled knot of anxiety all day on Sunday and are simply unable to rouse yourself Monday morning, it’s probably a sign you should seek other employment. Also, consider the possibility that you’re suffering from depression; ask your medical practitioner for a complete physical and let her/him recommend next steps. We’re not joking; life is too short to feel chronically unhappy. Remember, there’s support available. There’s no shame in seeking treatment.

Besides winning the lottery, what can you do so that the beginning of the week isn’t fraught with anxiety, fatigue, glum resignation or other negative feelings?

1. focus on the positive

Now we know this is easier said than done.  While you may not be able to change anything externally, at least for the time being, you can change how you look at things. Sometimes, all it takes is a shift in your perceptions and how you respond. Let’s say it’s Monday and you’re not feeling the work love. What parts of your job do you enjoy? What are you looking forward to? Which colleagues do you enjoy working together with? There must be something good about what you do, otherwise, why would you have taken the job?

If your first response is to think: ‘I needed to get paid’ or ‘No-one else would hire me’, that’s your answer. Focus on the gratitude. Instead of feeling burdened by the things you have to do, consider the things you get to do. You may think this is just semantics and a little too precious, but you’d be surprised how changing a few words changes everything. Language is powerful; learning how to use it positively, like changing the way you respond or look at things, takes practice but it’s really worth the effort.

2. make preparations

Experts suggest you prepare for Monday on Friday. If you know you’ll be faced with a deluge of emails after the weekend, make sure you clear your inbox by Friday. Don’t leave issues or deadlines looming over the weekend; use the week to wrap things up, organize and prepare as much as you can for the following week, before you leave the office on Friday. At the same time, review your calendar; check off what’s completed (very satisfying); review the schedule for the new week so you’re as prepared as possible for the inevitable appearance of new initiatives and changes.

Make time over the weekend to prepare for the workweek ahead. Take a few hours to shop, precut and prepare food for the week so you’re not scrambling to put a meal together when you’re tired and hungry. Some people prepare lunches for the whole week so they’re not tempted to grab fast food at the office. If that’s not your style, at least make your Monday lunch on Sunday night. Lay out your clothes the night before so your morning isn’t rushed and you don’t stagger into Monday tired and frazzled. In fact, plan to wear your favourite outfit, suit or accessories to work on Monday. Looking your best is directly related to how likely you are to feel your best. 

3. make the weekend count

Don’t let your weekends be merely an extension of your workweek. Unplug. Avoid checking work emails, although many workers report they clear their work email on Sunday night so they’re not overwhelmed on Monday morning. Spend time with family and friends, have some fun, take time to unwind, exercise and rest. Don’t extend the weekend into your workweek by bringing a brownbag lunch and a hangover to work Monday morning (You wouldn’t think we’d need to say this, but you’d be surprised). Limit parties to Fridays and Saturdays, and keep Sunday for taking care of you so you’re refreshed, well rested and revitalized on Monday. You spend time and money making sure your car runs well; don’t you deserve at least the same consideration?

And speaking of fun, experts suggest you take the fun with you to work. Planning something you can look forward to will make Monday more tolerable. Bake something to share with your colleagues, or suggest an international lunch where everyone brings in food from their culture. Join the social committee or create one, then plan a fun work event. Form lunch clubs based on people’s interests. Few managers or bosses will put the kibosh on activities that build employee engagement and cohesiveness, as long as they don’t negatively impact productivity.

4. focus outward

Look outside yourself for happiness. Make someone else’s day through an act of kindness, thoughtful listening or if time permits, helping them complete a task. Experts agree that helping others makes us feel better. It actually has a positive impact on our moods and our bodies by triggering the mesolimbic system that releases positive chemicals in our brains. Helping others raises our self-esteem, strengthens our relationships, and increases our feelings of belonging.  Who couldn’t use some of that on a Monday?

When you’re unhappy, it’s difficult not to project your unhappiness onto the whole week or everyone around you. Complaining and negativity, like yawning, are infectious. You decide how you want your presence to impact your work environment and make adjustments accordingly. Earlier, we mentioned gratitude. Think of it as a muscle and work to strengthen it. There must be things you’re grateful for at work, like providing the means for you to support yourself and contribute to your family’s well-being or opportunities to learn new things that challenge and excite you.

You only need to make slight adjustments in how you think to significantly affect your emotional trajectory. Change, like most things worth doing, takes time and practice. Consider changing one thing at a time; work it until it becomes natural before you add something else. It may be necessary for you to change jobs at some point, but until that happens, you have the power to dispel those Monday clouds above your head.

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