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The Moan-day Blues: 9 Ways to Reprogram the Way You Think About Monday

The Moan-day Blues: 9 Ways to Reprogram the Way You Think About Monday

Monday. Moan-day!

The very word sends an array of negative emotions scurrying through the hearts and minds of people across the land. Last Friday is a mere memory, the weekend has come and gone, and it’s about to get real again.

It’s going down.

You have raised your sword to do battle once more with the start of the work week. You know that in order to press forward to Friday, you have to break free from the chains of Monday.

Oh Monday, why do we dislike you so?

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In 2012, a study was published in the Journal of Positive Psychology that concluded people hate Monday just about as much as they hate Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. They seem to like Friday okay, but the rest of the work week is pretty much on the same level as Monday.

Who knew? 

Monday has become universally known and accepted as the most depressing day because of the significant mood swing experienced between Sunday and the first work day of the week.

Let’s reflect a bit, shall we?

There are about 52 Mondays in a year, or about 1,248 hours. Let’s say you work for 40 years. That means you have about 49,920 hours that belong to Monday. That’s roughly 5.6 years.

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Over five years of our working life is devoted to, yes, Monday.

Five years of your life is far too much time spent disliking a day for something that it represents! So, Monday haters unite. Let’s throw down the gauntlet. We are going to change the way Monday is viewed. It will no longer strike fear in our hearts. It will no longer ruin another Sunday because we are worried about the oncoming Monday. In our best Scarlett O’Hara southern accent, we shall say, “As God is my Witness, we will kick Monday’s butt.”

As far as you’re concerned, it’s just going to be another day you have to get through in order to visit the beloved Friday.

1. Prepare for Monday on Friday.

If you have Monday morning work anxiety, be sure to take care of as many dreadful details that you can on Friday afternoon. Clear your desk, review your calendar for the next week, and handle any small projects that are due Monday morning.

When you walk into your office on Monday, walk into a clean office with no small tasks hanging over your head. Your only goal at that moment is to grab that cuppa joe and get busy meeting Monday head on!

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2. Have a hard stop at 4 on Sunday and shut down.

By the time 4 p.m. on Sunday rolls around, make sure everything is complete. Have the house cleaned, your work done, and make it a point to stop checking emails. Just enjoy it. It’s time to relax. If you work late into the evening on Sunday, you’ll never be rested on Monday.

3. Start the day with something that gives you energy.

Get your heart pumping first thing Monday morning. Go for a run, a hearty walk, or hit the gym. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain and they trigger a positive feeling in the body. It gives you an energizing outlook for the week.

4. Start the day with something that lifts your spirit.

Meditation is an effective solution to the Monday blues. Recent studies on meditation link the benefits of meditation to health, happiness, and creativity. Meditation can also have an affirmative effect on positive emotions, which reduces overall stress.

5. Make it a point to do something different every Monday.

Break the pattern of monotony. Get a notepad and start numbering from 1–52. Now, write down 52 different things you can do on a Monday. Then, start working through the list. Make sure each item is doable, but make sure each item is diverse enough to make you excited.

That’s a surefire way to step outside of any comfort zone!

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6. Have date night–with yourself.

After all, you are a pretty hot little number. Whether single or in a relationship, we all need time to ourselves. Take yourself to a movie, dinner, drinks, or check into a hotel. It’s a great way to enjoy your own company and block out the rest of the world.

7. Wear a new outfit on Monday.

What feels better when you get ready for work than knowing you are going to put on some snazzy new outfit? You’ll walk into the office like a Parisian model celebrating Fashion Week.

8. Take the back road to work. 

Get up early so you can take the back way to work. The back road represents back to basics and back to nature. In the broadest sense, “back to basics” means taking the time to refocus on the more essential aspects of your life that may have been neglected during demanding times.

In smooth times, we seem too busy to focus on rudimentary details. But, when times are tough, we should evaluate those things that made us successful and begin implementing those strategies again.

9. Peel back the layers on the onion.

This may be the most vital item of all. A shift in attitude means you have to understand the root cause of discontent for Monday. What’s the real issue here? Be specific. Don’t say that you hate your job. Narrow it down so you understand why specifically you hate your job. Is it your boss? The work? The commute? The culture? Your co-workers?

The question then becomes, what are you going to do about it? If you say nothing, you are sentencing yourself to only partial life satisfaction.

So, what’s your plan to change your situation?  It won’t happen overnight, but if you don’t start developing a plan now, you’re going to waste far too much time overcoming anxiety. It’s just not worth it.

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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