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Picture yourself on a typical Sunday night. Do you feel refreshed and energized as you look forward to the upcoming week? Or is there a slight (to severe) feeling of dread present when you think about waking up the next morning?
Unlike other new beginnings that bring us enthusiasm and joy, Mondays have been found to be so depressing that studies show the average employee is only productive for 3.5 hours out of an 8 hour shift.
The Monday blues are so widespread that they have become a commonly recognized cultural phenomenon. If you tend to feel depressed, exhausted, unmotivated, or stressed at the beginning of each work week, you’re probably among the many people who experience the Monday blues. But, just because many people have lower levels of job satisfaction and increased stress at the beginning of each new week doesn’t mean you have to.
In this article, we are going to look at what exactly the Monday blues are and then we will review 8 ways to overcome this daunting weekly recurrence.
First, let’s dive into what the Monday blues are so you know what you’re up against.
While today’s meaning of the Monday blues is a lack of motivation when going into a workweek following a 2-day break, its origins date back to the 1700s, when this situation was referred to as “Blue Monday”. At the time, Blue Monday described Mondays in which workers stayed home from work due to having a heavily indulgent weekend. Feeling “blue” is synonymous with feeling melancholy and exhausted– and when paired with ‘Monday’, it led to this term that’s often used today.
This condition impacts people who currently work a standard 5-day work week with a 2-day weekend. However, the Monday blues are something that most people have experienced in some way, as this is the first day of our schedules starting in school as children, followed by a typical college schedule, and later on in the professional world. For most of our lives, we have associated this day with stress and pressure by leaving the comfort of our homes to commute to work, chase deadlines, and return to the multitude of tasks scheduled for the week.
Even the most positive employees experience the Monday blues, and while it’s natural to dread going back to work after a fun weekend, these feelings usually quickly fade. If you’re experiencing a deepening lack of interest with your work or severe emotions that continue through the week, this may be a sign indicating that you’re having more than a case of the Mondays.
While it’s not a clinical diagnosis, the feeling of dread that accompanies the Monday blues are very real and can affect many individuals on varying levels. Because the Monday blues are not a diagnosis, the symptoms of the Monday blues are anecdotal, but they typically involve:
The cause of these unfavorable feelings vary, but most agree that the Monday blues are a way of dreading the start of a new work week. If you suffer from the Monday blues, it’s likely that you’re more joyful during your time off from work because you’re at liberty to choose what activities you’re engaging in. Lacking control over one’s schedule can contribute to a somber mood going into each week. On the other hand, if you’re passionate about what you do, starting a new week may be just another great opportunity to engage in what you love doing.
While the Monday blues may be a sign of unhappiness or dissatisfaction with one’s job or weekly routine, it is not the same as depression, because it only occurs at a specific and anticipated time during the week. And, the dreadful feelings of Mondays lessen as the week progresses, which in turn increases one’s mood as the weekend approaches. Alternatively, feelings of depression are persistent and include symptoms such as a loss of interest in formerly pleasurable activities.
Now that you can identify whether you’ve been experiencing the Monday blues lately or not, let’s look at why you should do something about it and then what you can do to overcome these feelings.
Once you can overcome the distress of starting a new work week, you will find that your life will improve in several ways. First, you will be able to be more productive on Mondays, which will increase your productivity overall. If you’re engaged and happy to be at work going into the week, you will be more likely to meet your productivity goals.
Secondly, you will be a better team member for your agency. It’s important to have people work well together, and when you can avoid the Monday blues and come in with a positive attitude, you can spend more time developing positive working relationships with your colleagues.
Also, studies show that having the Monday blues can impact how one responds to daily stressors. With a lower sense of morale on Mondays, one may respond more negatively to a stressful situation (for example, snapping at a coworker) than they would to that same situation later in the week (responding with patience).
Finally, you will feel happier overall when you’re at work without the Monday blues. You will be more likely to enjoy the process of your job, gain intrinsic motivation to succeed, and accept a greater sense of accountability for the role you play in the success of the company. And if you’re in a management role, beating the Monday blues may help set a positive example for your team, which will create a more positive working environment.
Let’s look at what you can do about this.
If you’re continuously experiencing the Monday blues, it may be a sign that you’re unhappy at work, which could indicate that it’s time to make a change. Try making a list of what is bringing you down in your professional life, whether it’s a negative co-worker or feelings of boredom.
Gaining clarity about what you dread each week can motivate you to be proactive in finding a solution. If there are just a few things that make you suffer from the Monday blues, you may be able to avoid these feelings by requesting to move away from a problematic coworker or asking for additional tasks if you’re not being challenged. Empower yourself to improve your situation as best you can.
If you’re only suffering from the occasional spells of Monday blues, then it’s a good idea to look at what you can do to cheer yourself up on these otherwise dreary days.
It is not unusual for people to run out of the office early on Fridays when facing the excitement of the weekend. But this often results in pushing tasks off until the following Monday. Instead, consider finishing everything you can on Friday to reduce the amount of work that you’re walking into on Monday morning.
Doing this will help you create an easy transition back to work after your 2-day break and help reduce any chance of worry over the weekend regarding all of the tasks you have to complete once you’re back at work. If you can finish up any small projects, it will help you enjoy the weekend more and go into the following week with a lighter to-do list.
We tend to make Mondays harder by starting off with a blank slate each week. But if you stay prepared throughout the week, you can use your Mondays for fine-tuning your schedule. Work can pile up over the weekend and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re flooded with tasks or meetings as soon as you start your week, so when you can, avoid scheduling meetings or planning to complete big tasks on Mondays.
Now, this isn’t to say to slack off, but there are some aspects of every job that are more or less difficult than others. Planning ahead and keeping a light schedule toward the beginning of the week will help you ease into work and even reduce your stress over the weekend surrounding the anticipation of your Monday morning to-do list.
Try to maintain some balance on the weekends by taking it easy on Sundays. Maintaining a balanced life is the best way to perceive Mondays as just another day instead of something to fear. Sticking to your regular sleep schedule on the weekends can help you adjust when you transition back to work from your relaxing break.
Part of the reason that Mondays are such a struggle is that it’s easy to abandon any typical eating, sleeping, and active habits as soon as you leave work on Friday. If you eat and drink more and have a big shift in your sleep and wake patterns on the weekend, you’ll definitely feel out of sorts by Monday morning.
You can certainly give yourself a break and go out and have fun on Friday or Saturday, but try to spend the other evening laying low. Then take time on Sundays for self care, which will help offset negative feelings surrounding spending the following day at work.
Spending too much time out and about on the weekends could lead to exhaustion–especially if alcohol is involved. Monday will always be an even worse struggle if it’s coupled with a lack of sleep and a hangover. So set aside Sundays to recuperate so you can be your best self going into the week–and be sure to maintain your major routines over the weekend.
It may sound like the last thing you want to get up to do on a Monday, but getting some exercise could be just what you need to help you get through your Monday blues.
We know exercising will help increase your endorphin levels, so if you can get an early morning workout in, it will help you start the day on the right foot. While exercising may not change how your day unfolds once you’re on the clock, getting your heartrate up before you exchange your first, “How was your weekend?” will mean that you will have already achieved something before you even get to work, which will help get your momentum going
Make a conscious decision to turn any negative reluctance into a positive and productive attitude. Take some time on Monday morning (or Sunday night) to recognize anything that you’re looking forward to during the upcoming week or the things that you enjoy about work. Doing this can help you replace your negative feelings with some positivity.
Even if your job is 80% awful, that still offers 20% of your day that gives you a justifiable reason to get up in the morning. Whether it’s your coworkers, your salary, or just the fact that you’re employed, write down anything that you at least appreciate about your job.
Also, you can also do things such as listening to some of your favorite upbeat, high-energy songs on the way to work or wearing a new professional outfit that makes you feel good about yourself.
Once in the office, keep any negative thoughts to yourself and avoid listening to other people’s complaints. Creating or adding to a culture of negativity will not help improve your attitude. Instead, keep a smile on your face as you walk the halls. Studies have found that maintaining a happy face at work is contagious and will make you seem more approachable by coworkers. So if you can be positive at work on Mondays, you will improve your experience and improve the environment for those around you as well.
Taking breaks is essential to productivity, employee morale, job satisfaction, and maintaining balanced mental health and motivation. Because of this, most experts recommend taking a break every 25 to 90 minutes, which can help:
It’s important to stay ahead of it and take a break before you’re drained. While many people usually take their first break at lunch or whenever fatigue and distraction set in, studies have found that it’s best to take an extended break 2-3 hours into work to remain on track for the rest of the day.
Experiment with your daily schedule to figure out the best times for you to take an early extended break. During these breaks you can go for a quick walk, talk to a coworker, eat a snack, or just get a change of scenery.
If you have something to look forward to after work on Mondays, it can help you get through the day with a better attitude. Maybe organize a happy hour with your colleagues or plan to go out to dinner with your family. Some people even join local sports leagues that practice on mondays to help them get through the long day.
If you’re an employer and you’re trying to reduce the Monday blues on your team, research has found it’s a good idea to schedule any wellness activities held by your organization early in the week because this is when employees need them the most.
Take the steps laid out in this article to make your Mondays more positive. Making these small changes every week will help make a big difference. It’s normal to feel down about Mondays every now and then, but if you feel that your negativity toward Mondays is affecting other areas of your life, it may be time to seek professional help.
For more motivational tips, check out the 31 Best Inspirational and Motivational Short Stories.
Connie Mathers is a professional editor and freelance writer. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. When she is not writing, Connie is either spending time with her daughter and two dogs, running, or working at her full-time job as a social worker in Richmond, VA.