We’ve all been there: the clammy dread you feel as the weekend winds down and you’re left with a severe case of the “Monday blues” — that down, lethargic sensation at the start of a new work week.
Coming off a relaxing, fun-filled weekend and making the transition to an unpleasant workday on Monday can be very discouraging, says Wyatt Fisher, PsyD.
If you find yourself feeling sluggish, tense, or overwhelmed on Monday morning, the following strategies can help you stay 2 steps ahead of these feelings.
Part of what makes Mondays so hard is that we often leave all of our normal eating, sleeping, and exercise habits behind on Friday afternoon, says counselor Kathryn Ely.
If you drink more, eat richer foods, and have completely different sleep and wake patterns on Saturday and Sunday, you’ll probably feel a bit out of sorts by Monday morning.
This doesn’t mean you can’t give yourself a bit of a break on the weekends. But try to find a balance that lets you unwind while still keeping up with your major routines.
“Treat yourself some, but don’t go off the rails,” Ely adds.
The Monday blues may be a sign that you need to have stricter boundaries between work and play.
If you’re constantly checking emails when you should be taking the weekend to relax, you’re setting yourself up for burnout.
To break the habit, try turning off your mail notifications on Friday and unplugging from any work-related problems to focus on personal time.
It sounds obvious, but not feeling well rested can have a huge impact on how you feel Monday morning. Missing out on the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep can make you more anxious and depressed.
Ely advises keeping your sleep and wake schedule close to what it is during the week to avoid messing up your internal clock.
Again, you don’t need to stick to exactly the same routine, but try to avoid going to bed more than an hour or two later than you would during the week.
While taking the weekend to fully disconnect from work is ideal, it isn’t always realistic.
If you know you have a potentially overwhelming week or a big deadline on the horizon, consider setting aside an hour or two on Sunday for work to take some of the pressure off come Monday.
If you decide to go this route, make sure you get to relax on Saturday. If you don’t give yourself a break, you’ll still be frazzled on Monday morning. And when you’re overworked, you tend to work less efficiently.
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed when you’re flooded with meetings after coming back from a relaxing weekend. Whenever possible, try to avoid scheduling meetings or big tasks on Monday.
Avoid worrying about a packed schedule by planning ahead and not piling up pending tasks for the next week.
If you’re struggling with how to juggle everything, try using time management tools to help you track your activities and schedule events more easily.
When your mind is in overdrive thinking about the next day’s worries, jotting everything down can help you feel calmer and more productive.
As you write, ask yourself:
- What are the exact emotions I’m feeling? Anger, sadness, fear?
- What’s stressing me out, exactly? Is it a person or a task?
- What are some actionable steps I can take right now to let the worry go? Take a short walk? Jot down a quick game plan for next week?
Sometimes, the Monday blues can be a sign that you’re just not crazy about your job or line of work, says Ely.
“If you don’t like what you do and are going through mundane motions Monday through Friday, of course Monday hangs over your head all weekend like a wet blanket,” she says.
Try identifying the source of your anxiety by reflecting on where the dread is coming from. If it’s an overbearing boss or a demanding colleague, it might be worth scheduling a meeting with them to address those issues.
If it’s the nature of your job that has you down, it might be time to start thinking about making a switch.
If you’re having a hard time starting the week on a good note, consider getting in the habit of spending the first 30 minutes of your Monday writing down your achievements and goals you have for your future. This can help you think in terms of the bigger picture and how your current work might help you achieve your larger goals.
“If we spend our time working toward what is important to us and aligning our goals with our values, then we’ll experience fulfillment in our work,” Ely emphasizes.
Sometimes, there’s no better way to feel more at ease than calling a close friend for support. If you’re feeling especially overwhelmed, reach out to a loved one during your lunch break on Mondays.
Simply talking about your day with someone who understands can help you feel more confident and prepared to tackle large projects.
Having something to look forward to can go a long way in combating the Monday blues, says Fisher.
Knowing that you’ll do a fun activity — such as a basketball game with colleagues over your lunch hour or meeting up with a friend after work — can give you a brighter start to your week.
Instead of endlessly ruminating about your growing to-do list, think of ways you can make someone else’s Monday better. By doing so, you’ll distract from your own worries and feel better about yourself.
Here are a few ideas:
- Get up early and make your partner a special breakfast.
- Send your co-worker a “thank you” email over your lunch break.
- Give your friend a pep talk before their big meeting.
- Pay for a stranger’s coffee on your way to the office.
Breakfast is almost always a smart move — but pay extra attention to it on Monday.
Maybe that’s the day you pop into a cafe and order your favorite breakfast sandwich on your way in. Or maybe you set aside 20 minutes on Sunday night to prep a bunch of veggies for a hearty omelette in the morning.
Starting your day off with a good breakfast not only gives you something to look forward to, but it also helps you stay energized as you ease back into your weekly grind.
Don’t leave all your big projects looming for the first day of the week. Delegate your concentration-filled work for Tuesday and Wednesday instead.
Use Monday to get through emails and plan out the rest of your week. If you can, save any busy work or easy tasks — whether it’s making copies, arranging travel, or approving invoices — for Monday mornings.
If the Monday blues start turning into the Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday blues, you might be dealing with depression.
Monday blues will get better as the week goes on, Ely explains, while “clinical depression is generally characterized as a persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities that causes significant impairment in daily life, for an extended period of time.”
This can also be accompanied by a chronic sense of hopelessness, irritability, restlessness, and sleep troubles.
While it’s normal to feel nervous about Monday now and again, if you feel your dread has become excessive or is affecting other areas of your life, it may be time to seek professional help.
Here are some steps you can take:
- Ask your primary healthcare provider to refer you to a qualified therapist.
- Make a list of therapists that live in your area. If you live in the United States, you can find one using the American Psychological Association’s psychologist locator.
- If you’re worried about the cost, our guide to therapy for every budget can help.