I’ll be blunt — sometimes —  Mondays suck. But, apparently, there’s one Monday that’s so gloomy that it has its own holiday. And if you haven’t heard of Blue Monday, I hadn’t either until writing about it — but I now plan to be depressed on January 17, 2022, just for fun!

Appropriately known as Blue Monday, this takes place on the third Monday in January. Why? Well, it’s from an equation developed by psychologist Cliff Arnall.

The University of Cardiff, Wales doctor who specializes in seasonal disorders, created a formula for determining peoples’ lowest points by considering a variety of feelings.

The model is:

[W + (D-d)] x TQ

_____________

M x NA

There are seven variables in the equation:

  • (W) weather
  • (D) debt
  • (d) monthly salary
  • (T) time since Christmas
  • (Q) time since failed quit attempt
  • (M) low motivational levels
  • (NA) the need to take action

“Following the initial thrill of New Year’s celebrations and changing over a new leaf, reality starts to sink in,” Arnall told NBC News. “The realization coincides with the dark clouds rolling in and the obligation to pay off Christmas credit card bills.”

On the surface, this may make sense. In reality, though, this equation is scientifically uninformative and driven by money.

The formula was developed in 2005 to assist a travel company to “analyze when people book holidays and holiday trends,” said Alex Kennedy, spokesperson for Porter Novelli, a London-based PR agency.

“People feel bleak when they have nothing planned, but once they book a holiday, they have a goal, they work toward having time off and a relaxing period,” Kennedy added.

“When you imagine yourself on the beach, it makes you feel positive. So you will save money, go to the gym and come back to the optimism you had at the end of 2004,” she said.

Blue Monday is a gimmick, but we still aren’t fond of Mondays.

While “Blue Monday” might be considered rubbish, that doesn’t change the fact that many of us dread this day. In fact, According to a LinkedIn survey, 66% of professionals say they experience the “Sunday Scaries” — and that 41% of them say that the pandemic has worsened the situation.

When not addressed, this can cause a phenomenon known as the “Sunday Scaries.” The name might sound cute. But, it can lead to negative emotions ranging from;

  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Sadness
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Resentment
  • Irritability

In turn, these feelings can manifest into several symptoms. These include headaches, insomnia, restlessness, fatigue, and an upset stomach. Needless to say, any of these can interfere with your personal and professional lives.

However, there are ways to overcome the “Sunday Scaries” so that you can actually look for to Mondays.

1. Decipher fact from fiction.

Carve out a chunk of time to consider why you dread Mondays, suggests Jonathan Alpert, a psychotherapist, performance coach, and author of “Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days.”

“What makes you anxious about returning to work? Is it based on reality or on something you imagine?” he said. “For example, did your manager actually say you need to work at home over the weekend, or are you assuming they expect you to? Focus on what’s within your control, not on what’s beyond it — and certainly not on that which might be based merely on fiction.”

“I recommend individuals sit down and write out what they’re dreading within their week,” adds Jennifer Silvershein, a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist at Manhattan Wellness. “Typically, once we write out our fears and concerns, they feel smaller and more manageable.”

According to University of Rochester Medical Center researchers, journaling can help you reduce stress, manage anxiety, and cope with depression.

2. Identify strategies for addressing looming problems.

Writing out your fears is a great start. But, when we’re anxious about a specific item, like an upcoming project, this feeling doesn’t go away until it’s completed. As such, you need to brainstorm possible solutions on how to tackle your concerns.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you can widdle your worries down using a technique like the 4Ds of time management. This means you categorize your to-do-list as follows;

  • Do. These are your top priorities that must be done first.
  • Defer. Also called delaying, these are important tasks that can be added to your calendar when you have availability.
  • Delegate. When activities need to be completed but are wasting your time, you should assign them to others.
  • Delete. Get rid of your personal and professional obligations that aren’t needed or important.

It’s possible to cut down anxiety simply by acknowledging that your problems can’t be solved at the moment. If you need help, jot down the names of people you plan to ask. And, if anxiety creeps back up, be kind to yourself by reminding yourself that you’ve done everything you can.

3. Plan something you’ll look forward to.

Instead of filling your Mondays with tasks that you’re unenthusiastic about, schedule things you’re actually looking forward to doing. These will vary from person to person, by come examples include;

  • Learning something new through books, podcasts, or webinars, or online classes.
  • Attending an in-person or virtual event to network.
  • Having lunch with a friend or colleague.
  • Shadowing someone, like an industry leader.
  • Mentoring a team member.
  • Volunteering.
  • Working on a side project or task that you enjoy.

Even if a to-do list item must get done, you can stay focused by using the list above to motivate you. For example, you’ll only grab lunch with your friend if you finish your most important task on Monday morning.

4. Assess your New Year’s resolutions.

“A lot of people fail their New Year’s resolutions within two or three weeks,” Dr. Philip Clarke, a lecturer in psychology at the University of Derby, told the BBC. “But if you have failed, look at why and use that as a learning experience.”

“This gives people hope that they can still work towards a goal for the year and not beat themselves up about it,” added Dr. Clarke.

5. Combat SAD.

Season affective disorder is real. And, during the colder months of the year, it could contribute to you feeling sad, anxious, or fatigued. The good news? There are effective ways to fight back and recover from seasonal depression.

  • Spend time in nature. Yes. It’s freezing outside. But, research shows that being outside boosts participants’ mood and self-esteem.
  • Lighten the mood. Consider buying a lightbox, a SAD alarm clock, or SAD light bulbs.
  • Refresh your workspace. Clean and organize your desk, surround yourself with plants, and place some personal items in your work area.
  • Practice Hygge. Originally from Denmark, this concept emphasizes finding comfort, enjoyment, and warmth in the simplest of pleasures. Examples include practicing gratitude, sipping on warm beverages, curling up with a book, or talking to friends.
  • Stick to a routine. “There’s no need to be super strict about it, but a good routine can get you in a rhythm to coast right through seasonal depression,” Angela Ruth writes in a previous Calendar article.

6. Rearrange your schedule.

If possible, try to rearrange your schedule. Ideally, you would do this by working when you’re most productive. So, if you’re a night owl, you would start work later in the day instead of forcing yourself to wake up early.

Another suggestion would be implementing a 4-day workweek. In this case, you would work Tuesday through Friday. You could then use Mondays to rest and address less critical matters, like making plans for an upcoming business trip, mapping out your content calendar, or even cleaning the house and doing laundry.

Or, consider working from home on Mondays. This way, you’re still getting things done. But, you don’t have to worry about commuting or getting distracted by co-workers asking, “How was your weekend?”

7. Make Sunday your Funday.

While you’re worried about the coming week, making Sundays enjoyable can help ease some of your stress. When you’re having fun, you’re less likely to be distracted by thoughts of the week ahead.

For a more relaxing Sunday, try these tips:

  • First, do the worst. Avoid leaving the most challenging tasks until Sunday. Instead, get them done and over with on Saturday.
  • Slow down. You might consider doing some chores and errands throughout the week. It’s possible to free up time on Sunday by doing just one simple thing each day. For example, planning next week’s meals on Thursdays and going to the store Friday after work.
  • Make it special. Consider devoting Sundays to activities that are relaxing and enjoyable. That could be going on a hike with your family, watching football with friends, or lying on the couch and reading a book.
  • Give yourself a break. You might want to order takeout from your favorite restaurant or take a long bubble bath on Sunday evening. Hey, you deserve it!
  • Power down. If possible, turn off your phone and ignore work-related texts and emails. You should stay off the clock if it’s not an emergency.

You can reduce Sunday stress by prioritizing relaxation during your free time and being better prepared to face the week’s challenges.

8. Seek help.

It’s normal to occasionally get the Sunday Scaries to the point where you don’t look forward to Monday. But, if this is ongoing where you constantly feel irritable, exhausted, emotionally numb, or having difficulty concentrating, then consider seeking out professional help.

Remember, there’s is no shame in working with a mental health professional. It’s also not a sign of weakness. On the contrary, it demonstrates the strength to acknowledge that you need help and have taken the first step to move forward.

Image credit: Surja-Sen-Das-Raj; Pexels; Thank you!