Don't let the stress of Monday mornings interfere with enjoying your weekends to the fullest.
Monday mornings are such a stressful time for so many people that the majority of heart attacks occur on Mondays around 9am. Most of us start dreading it on Sunday night and, as a result, don't even fully enjoy the entire weekend. Where is the happiness in that?
What if you had a way to manage Monday morning stress? What if Sunday nights were more relaxing and Monday mornings, less dreadful.
Here is a step by step guide to transforming your Mondays. By the way, this guide can be used for getting through any day, not just Mondays.
Set your alarm to go off 15 minutes earlier than usual. I know this sounds like it would create more stress for you, but 15 minutes to get into the mind frame of less stress will do more for you than those extra 15 minutes of sleep.
Once your alarm goes off, sit up. Do not lie back down. If you have to, put your alarm on the other side of the room so that you have to get up to shut it off. Take a few deep breaths and stretch. If you normally exercise in the morning, stick to your exercise routine after finishing your deep breathing. Otherwise, use the rest of your 15 minutes to do a visualization exercise. Visualize yourself feeling good, feeling restful, and successfully accomplishing everything you need to do today. Then begin your morning routine while trying to hold onto the good feelings you brought up during your visualization. Even if you can only hold onto it for an extra 2 minutes, that's better than you did last Monday morning.
Upon Arriving at Work
Take a few minutes before getting out of your car to center yourself and reconnect with the feelings of well-being and peace that you brought up from the morning's visualization to help shield you from the stress emanating from your work environment as you walk into your work space. Before tackling any work, make a list of everything you would like to accomplish for the day and then prioritize them. Do this so that the most important things get completed first and, if you run out of time or get interrupted, the consequences won't be as bad.
Take advantage of your lunch break. It may be tempting to use the time to get more work done but this is about the time when your energy level is low and your body is not fully functioning due to low blood sugar and hunger (especially if you did one of the biggest no-no's in fighting stress which is skipping breakfast). While replenishing your body with nutritious food, replenish your mind by reading a book you enjoy, going for a walk in the park, or just getting out of your work environment. Instead of feeling like you've been at work all day, you can come back to your desk feeling like you took a break from work and start fresh.
An Hour Before the End of the Workday
This is around the time when it seems like the clock slows down and no longer functions normally. You're ready for the day to end but this feels like the longest hour in the day. Do a body scan. This means focusing and paying attention to each part of your body, starting with your head and neck and going down to your feet. If you find any tension in any part of your body, consciously relax that part of your body.
At the End of the Day
Sit in your car for a few minutes and breathe. Congratulate yourself for making it through the day. Hopefully, prioritizing your to-do list allowed you to complete the most important tasks and leaves you feeling a little relieved that they're done. One of the benefits to managing stress is clear thinking. You'll see that over time, managing your stress makes you more productive.
If you're under a lot of stress, you probably go to bed when you’'e exhausted. Unfortunately, exhaustion means that your mind and body were tired earlier in the day and you ignored the signs. Even though you have a lot to do, you'd get more done if you had more energy. Ignoring the signs of fatigue won't get you more energy. It'll put you in a sleep deprived state and then it'll take you longer to accomplish what you could have accomplished in a non-sleep deprived state. It's in your best interest to manage your stress and get adequate rest.
So, before you reach the point of exhaustion, go to bed 15 minutes earlier and try to meditate. Meditation just means that you're relaxing your mind and body. Normally, meditation is done sitting up so that you don't fall asleep, but this time go ahead and meditate while lying in bed. If you happen to fall asleep, that's okay. If you're able to relax your body and clear your mind to the point that you fall asleep, that's a good thing.
During the day, you may have come up with additional ways to lower your stress at work, such as adding calming pictures to your screen saver, playing classical music at a low volume in your work space, or reading an inspirational quote during high stress times. What are some other things you can do?
Don't let Monday mornings interfere with your Sunday nights. Transform your Mondays and fully enjoy your weekends. Use this 10 minute meditation video to help.
Sandra Thébaud, PhD is a Psychologist and Transformation Specialist coach at StressIntel, a woman-owned, minority-owned, veteran-owned small business. Contact her for more information or to receive a free proposal on stress management training for your business.