I’m a Therapist, and These Are My 3 Secrets for Actually Looking Forward to Mondays

Photo: Getty Images/Luis Alvarez
As much as I love the weekends, Sundays tend to bring a dose of anxiety, with the knowledge that Monday is right around the corner. "Sunday Scaries," as this sensation has come to be known, happens when you are flooded with overwhelming thoughts and feelings of dread knowing that Monday is only a few hours away and it’s time to get back into productivity mode and manage your weekly responsibilities. But, with a few mindset-shifting exercises, it's possible to learn how to actually look forward to Mondays.

Sure, looking forward to Mondays might sound unrealistic in practice, but it's actually totally possible. In order to embrace this outlook, though, you must first commit to prepping, planning, and shifting your mindset.

So, ask yourself: What’s causing your Monday blues? The first step to effectively tackling Sunday Scaries is to understand why Mondays are so dreadful in the first place. For you, is Monday daunting because of a return to work? Is it more so having to deal with an annoying co-worker? Having to get back into class? An upcoming exam, or a doctor's appointment you’ve been pushing off? Whatever it is, getting to the root of the issue and assessing what is causing you to feel any sense of worry or overwhelm in relation to the start of the week is the first measure to take to combat the Monday blues.

We all have different responsibilities and realities of life, and it’s normal for many people to spend their weekend either enjoying the time off, running errands or simply having down time. However, our weekends are short, so that means Monday usually prances upon us quicker than we would like, which means learning to plan for what’s ahead can be important.

3 strategies to banish the Sunday Scaries and learn how to look forward to Mondays

1. Practice mindfulness

It’s Sunday, but your mind is already focused on Monday and all that comes with it. When we are not living in a state of mindfulness, we are mentally wandering into the future, which disrupts our ability to focus on the present and what is in front of us.

When we are not living in a state of mindfulness, we are mentally wandering into the future, which disrupts our ability to focus on the present and what is in front of us.

Learning to master the art of mindfulness takes time and everyday practice, but the skills of doing it are simple. Practicing mindfulness looks like learning to be in tune with the moment at hand. When you feel your mind wandering or racing into the future, pause by doing some grounding techniques. Focus on an object that is in front of you, or engage all five senses by focusing on the things you can see, feel, hear, touch, taste, and smell. Grounding techniques can also come in the form of simple pleasures such as baking, cooking, or going for a walk and talking with a friend about what’s happening in the moment. Learn to focus your energy on today, so that you can worry less about tomorrow.

2. Literally tell yourself, “Tomorrow’s Monday”

When we dread something, it's easy to mentally amplify it and twist it into something far worse than it really is. Sometimes, the simple act of telling ourselves, “tomorrow is Monday” is a great way to remember that tomorrow is coming and to contextualize that it’s probably not as scary as we’re making it out to be.

Reflect on past Mondays and consider the worst things that have happened: You possibly went to work, saw a colleague, maybe saw a friend, dropped your kid at school, and did what you needed in order to get through the week. It’s important to remember that your mindset plays a role in how you feel and behave, so if you choose to see Monday as a threat, you're teaching your brain that there's something to fear, and may trigger fight, flight, or freeze responses as a way to cope with that threat. Telling yourself, “tomorrow is Monday” is a reminder that another day is coming, and there is nothing to be afraid of. In fact, it's is a great way to practice self-regulation.

3. Prepare and plan

Do you have certain responsibilities coming up this week that are making you wish Monday was another four days away? Start planning in advance. Ask yourself what is so distressing about this event coming up, and plan to find ways to self-regulate as you get through the week.

Some healthy ways to self-regulate include engaging in healthy distractions. This can look like: watching a TV show, journaling, listening to music, doing a fun activity or hobby, or even going for a walk, or exercising. When we know something is coming our way that we are not excited about, we have to find ways to teach our brain that the situation is not as distressing as it seems by taking control of our lives and practicing self-regulation to manage our emotional reactions to external stimuli.

Sundays no longer have to be scary and Mondays no longer have to be dreadful. Practicing these tips weekly can help you learn to live in the moment and honor what's in front of you without having fear for what’s ahead.

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