The most mentally draining day of the week (it’s not what you’d think)

While most of us tend to think of Sunday evening or mid-week to be the most mentally draining time of the week, it turns out that Mondays are in actuality the most difficult day of the week to get through from a psychological standpoint.

According to recent research, as reported by The Telegraph, Mondays are actually a whole lot more depressing than we all initially thought—in fact, most people don’t even crack their first smile until 11:16 a.m.

And according to a study reported by The Daily Mail, more than half of all working professionals will spend over half an hour complaining on Monday mornings—compared to just 22 minutes on the average weekday.

“And while people continue to grumble about aches and pains, heavy workloads and tiredness the rest of the week, Mondays tend to be when people suffer most,” a spokesperson for the study told The Daily Mail.

While Mondays are objectively more difficult to get through than other days of the week, they don’t have to be all doom and gloom—especially if you have the right mindset. Since the Monday stresses come each and every week, working on a more positive mindset could actually be the key to a much happier life, both personally and professionally.

Below, we’ve spoken to a handful of psychologists and mindset experts to get their best tips on how to actually learn to withstand Mondays without the sense of mental drain that we’ve accepted as the norm. Here, exactly what you need to do if you want to start your week off with a much healthier mindset.

Create a task list

According to Executive Leadership Coach, Jo Ilfeld,PhD, creating a task list for the first thing you need to work-on Monday before you leave Friday is one of the best ways to set yourself up for success in the new week.

“Oftentimes when you start work on Monday, you’re out of your groove and you don’t know where to start so you do menial things like checking email and slack channels,” explains Ilfeld.

“If you know your top priority for Monday when you come in, it’s easier to get started on that and then you can start your week with a victory by getting a big to-do dealt with early Monday. That makes the week feel productive already by 10am!”

Do something fun on the weekend

Even in quarantine you can hike, chat with a friend, read a great book, watch your favorite Netflix series, whatever it is that makes the weekend fun and memorable.

“The point is if you don’t have fun on the weekend, you’ll never feel ready for another week. It will be like the worst groundhogs day ever!” explains Ilfeld.

Make gratitude a habit

Career Coach Kate Tudoreanu, MS suggests creating, and sticking to, a morning ritual that includes physical movement, followed by a gratitude exercise that will raise your energy level and motivation.

“The gratitude exercise can be done in writing or using audio notes. Then, use a planner or mind map to set 1-3 goals you would like to accomplish during the week. The goals should be something you are looking forward to doing; for example, finding a gift for someone, completing a project at work that you’re passionate about, or having a zoom coffee chat with a colleague during a break.”

Make Sunday count

“On Sunday, take some steps to make your Monday easier,” offers Certified Executive Coach and Facilitator, Kelly Harris Perin. Finish that laundry, go ahead and make Monday’s dinner and stick it in the fridge, and get everyone in bed on time.

“I even try to get in a good workout on Sunday so I don’t have to squeeze it in on Monday,” she adds. “That way, you’ll be fueled up and as ready as you can be for whatever Monday brings!”

Create small, achievable goals

Our workloads are often times the biggest on Mondays—think about how often you shutdown your computer on Friday afternoon knowing all too well just how much work you’ll have piled up by Monday morning! This can leave us overwhelmed and stuck doing nothing.

“If you’re expecting yourself to finish off your entire to-do list in one sitting, you will most likely be disappointed with yourself,” explains Paw Vej, Executive Country Manager Denmark, Recruitment Manager at Financer.com.

“Instead, focus on little wins, such as ‘writing 100 words,’ ‘giving feedback to one coworker,’ or ‘planning my day.’”

Stacking up these little wins and being okay with having done just enough will help make your Mondays less bad and help you feel as though your productivity is on the right track.