There is nothing quite as bad as the “Monday Blues”. I’d do anything to avoid that dreadful feeling because the “Sunday Scaries” show up like a bad migraine about to surface. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. Anxiety, tension, and other feelings of dread. That Monday Blues feeling can apply to things other than Mondays, but everyone can relate to that situation.
Before I left my corporate job, this is what they looked like for me: About mid-afternoon on Sunday, I suddenly stopped enjoying whatever I’d be doing. I could be in the middle of a pool party with friends or on a nice bike ride or dog walk with my husband and BAM! I’d start to get grouchy and irritable, ready to snap at little things that normally wouldn’t make me bat an eye. Then, my brain would start churning around the to do lists – what I have to do before bed, what I have to get done in the coming week, what I didn’t get done last week.
Irritability…anxiety…stress…overwhelm…DREAD! That was always the chain. And it can happen that quickly!
Here’s what I have finally figured out about dread: If there’s something that’s causing you that tense anticipation, you don’t sleep well, so you get up late, then you rush around like a crazy chicken, then you forget things, then you get frustrated. And frustration has its own set of problems to contend with.
In short: When I dread Monday, Monday turns out to be dreadful. After all, where your attention goes, your energy flows – and you also tend to be a magnet for those feelings (like dread).
So then, when I would start my day from a perspective of frustration and dread, that’s exactly how I would see my world and exactly what I’d experience. That’s when the dreadful things, like Monday, live up to their reputation. How exasperating!
But here’s the good news – there is hope for situations that make you dread them (like Monday Blues and every other day of the week, for that matter). If you prepare for them coming like we prepare for an Indy 500 party, you’re not surprised. Then, you can be dare I say it, calm and not dread it!
When you find yourself dreading something, there are usually three reasons for it. Here’s what they are and how you can manage your way around the stress, anxiety, and grumpiness of the situation. Pretty soon, you won’t be dreading Monday (or any other day for that matter) or any situation that fills you with dread.
Like I said, where your attention goes, your energy flows. And when your attention goes to feelings of negativity, your energy will be negative. So, if you have a dreadful story about Monday and the workweek or doing sales calls…they will be dreadful.
This is why affirmations work so beautifully. They pattern interrupt our thoughts and force us to think from another perspective. They affirm whatever we choose to believe.
When you start to feel those Sunday Scary feelings (AKA: dread, anxiety, and general UGH-ness), whether it’s for Monday or for anything, call it out. And by call it out, I mean, identify it. Describe exactly what you’re thinking and feeling.
“I’m nervous for that client call. I don’t know what they’ll say to me.”
“I’m dreading opening my email tomorrow morning.”
“I don’t think I can handle this situation.”
Now that you’ve called it out, shift it! Choose a new perspective. You can choose the perspective of any object around you or of an emotion you’d like to feel, like how would a bird feel about responding to emails? They’d probably say, “I don’t even know what that is! Have a great day!” Doesn’t that make you chuckle a little to think of a bird responding to emails? Shifts your perspective around it for sure!
You may also affirm positive feelings in advance about the situation you’re dreading, like, “This client is thrilled with our progress together and is happily paying for my services.”
It’s a quick catch and shift. Sometimes that’s all you need to do to help yourself shift the story you are telling yourself about something you dread.
In circumstances we dread facing, we don’t get to be ourselves. We feel like we have to be the version of ourselves that will make someone else happy, or comfortable, or whatever…often to the detriment of how we actually feel.
Instead of covering up how you feel, learn healthy ways to express yourself so you are fulfilled. These could be things like discovering how to speak in ways that are comfortable for you and your interlocutor, “showing up” with an energy that makes you feel powerful (whether that’s in certain clothing or an attitude), or doing something in your “off” time that makes it more palatable when you can’t “be yourself.”
Sometimes, though, this is more complicated, especially if you don’t feel safe expressing yourself. In that case, there may be something deeper that’s preventing you from feeling content or enjoying where you are.
When working with clients to help them identify what’s behind their Monday Blues, I will occasionally learn that my clients can’t be themselves, at least as far as they are concerned. If we don’t feel like we can “be ourselves” with others, we don’t feel safe. We put up a shield to protect ourselves from judgment or attack.
And while we believe it to be true, it’s actually just a story we are telling ourselves to prevent us from feeling the pain of unworthiness or judgment. If you can identify the story — the belief you have about why you can’t be yourself —that is sometimes enough to help you shift it (like in Problem #1).
It is always possible to be ourselves and to meet our objectives – we just have to decide that it is the case!
“It is possible for me to be myself and be accepted and loved for expressing myself exactly as I am.”
“It is possible for me to be myself and respond to this email with clearly-defined boundaries.”
“It is possible for me to be myself and say what’s on my mind in a loving, kind way.”
“It is possible for me to be myself and…” may be a new saying you can embrace that will shift your story and make the situations you dread a little more enjoyable. After all, what if it’s possible… You’ll see it really works!
At the root of most dreadful Mondays, or dreadful situations in general, is a more fundamental truth: We are not fulfilled in some way, either by the things we are doing in our lives or where/how we are choosing to spend our time.
When a portion of our life is not working for us, it shows up as stress in our day-to-day activities. Sometimes the answer is easy. (Maybe all we need to do to make our life “stress-free” is to stop spending all day Sunday with our mother when a half-day would mean the difference between calmness and anxiety build-up.) Other times, the answer is a little more complex. Either way, it isn’t always as daunting as it might seem.
Discovering what fulfills us in our lives can be an enjoyable experience and propel us to make simple changes that have a big impact on our wellbeing. One way you can start this discovery on your own is to begin to take inventory of the things in your life that bring you joy, as well as those things that drain your energy and fill you with dread and/or anxiety.
Once you discover what fulfills you, you can choose to include more of that in your life. Then, you can begin to spend less time doing those things that make you tense.
This is where hiring a coach can really help you! As a coach, I use tools and techniques to help my clients efficiently and effectively connect with their values and those pieces of their lives that truly fulfill them. (And if you’re ready to discover more about what really lights you up so that you can include more of that in your life and drop the dreadful things — let’s talk!)
Whether you have the Sunday Scaries and Monday Blues because you are still working for someone else or you simply are dreading what the next situation will bring, learning to identify the feeling, then choosing to do something about it with a simple shift is often all it takes to go from dreadful to wonderful.
Actively choosing your path sounds simple. It’s the actual practice of it where people can get caught up. But if you focus on it and make practicing consciously choosing what lights you up a habit, soon you’ll automatically be loving Mondays (or any situation that used to fill you with dread)!