After a bank holiday, Monday night blues are the subject of countless Twitter memes and Instagram selfies, as we all heave a collective sigh at the thoughts of returning to our routines. In equal measure come the sunshiney folk, who make us all feel a little bit worse with their positivity. "When you love what you do you, you'll never hate Mondays!"
Let's be real. It's all well and good to advise people who feel blue before going back to work to quit their jobs and follow their bliss. But there are bills to pay. So how do we handle that Monday evening, post-bank holiday feeling of impending doom, and get into a routine that makes us happy?
To start, it helps to understand why we're feeling the way we're feeling. There are so many factors that contribute to feeling low at the end of the long weekend.
Obviously, a heavy few nights out is not going to help. Drinking alcohol gives us a buzz of dopamine, which makes us feel great but when that buzz wears off and the hangover hits, the memories of a good night out are tainted.
Another reason for feeling low is social media. Its ill effects on our mental health have been well documented. Watching everyone else having a brilliant day filled with brunch and cocktails, only adds to our discomfort.
So how can we fix it? Without moving to the Maldives, there are plenty of small changes that can have an effect on our mood and how we feel about heading back to the grind.
1. Use your Sunday as a Saturday
Saturday is often filled with activities, like eating out and having quality time with friends. Sunday, on the other hand, is often about getting chores done and sitting around watching Netflix. Try swapping that order. Saturday will find you in a naturally better mood with the weekend out in front of you. Leave Sunday to enjoy the good stuff - organise brunch out with friends, go shopping, get out for a walk.
2. Plan the week ahead and get your to-do list ready
Take the stress out of going back to work on Tuesday by being prepared for the week ahead. Make a to-do list, run through what needs to be done and sketch out a schedule of how much time to spend on each. Get your ideas down on paper about what you want to focus on this week, choose your outfit, prep your lunch.
3. Make Monday Funday
Monday is often a dreary day, let's face it. There's nothing good on TV, buses and trains always seems to be packed and is it just us or does it seem to rain more on Mondays? Make your Monday (or Tuesday in this case) something to look forward to. Make your favourite meal or go out for dinner. Have an at-home spa session for yourself woth candles and facemasks. Having something you'll enjoy planned for a Monday and you might even look forward to the worst day of the week.
5. Focus on the positive
Before heading to work, don't indulge in the thoughts of an early start, a packed commute and a full inbox. Think instead about the positive things ahead. You might love the chats you have with your boss over morning coffees or the feeling of doing a great job on a project. Focus on the positive and don't let the few negatives outweigh them.
6. Get some help
If you are still feeling severely depressed about going back to work, or just feeling very down, tired or irritable for an extended period of time, it may be time to take a look at what's causing that.
If you're having a hard time with work stress, workplace bullying or just hating your job full stop, it is worth your while speaking to your boss or someone in HR about how this is affecting you and what you can do to ease it.
If this isn't an option for you, look at speaking to a trusted friend or even a careers counsellor who can point you in the right direction. No matter how much fun and self-care you do on a Sunday, it won't help if you are in the wrong job. Don't be afraid to explore your options and branch out into a different position, company or even career path that works better for you.
If you feel that maybe your feelings of depression aren't just related to work, the first step is to talk to someone who can help. Samaritans and Aware are great resources to get those feelings out in the open and begin to work through them, and they offer great advice on the paths you can take for the future.
Samaritans can be called for free on 116 123 at any time.
Aware can be called for free on 1800 80 48 48 from 10am to 10pm, Monday to Sunday