Poor Monday has quite an image problem.
I actually feel bad for Monday. Think about how the simple name of the day that starts our traditional work week has become sort of a boogieman to us.
You might hear Monday called “Blue Monday” for the sadness and malaise that the workweek brings, or hear someone referring to his or her “Monday Blues” when getting back into the office. Over recent decades, how we treat our Mondays has even been connected to a variety of health issues, including:
– Higher suicide rates. Studies have indicated a higher rate of suicides occurring on Mondays, leading to the assumption that the return to the workweek or “the grind” created such stress, sadness and anxiety that it seemed to place those at risk for suicide at a higher risk for actually taking their own lives. (Note: More recent studies have indicated that Wednesdays are higher risk than Mondays, blaming work-related stress that builds in the work week)
– Heart problems. Several studies in recent decades have indicated that heart problems and cardiovascular issues peak on Mondays, except on those occasions when Monday was a working holiday.
– Expecting the worse. In studies that have asked participants to track their emotional states or moods throughout a given week, research shows that while participants’ emotional states remained relatively unchanged throughout a workweek, participants seemed to recall feeling worse on Mondays, based on their memories, than any other day of the week.
“Blue Monday” may itself be a myth, or a self-fulfilling prophecy that’s created when we all collectively reinforce the idea that Monday is itself a terrible, horrible, daunting monster.
Since I began regularly teaching yoga this past July, I started to noticed another curious trend about Mondays.
Mondays at my local studio seems to show the lowest turnout rate of yoga students on any given the week.
It seems regardless of ordinary influences on student turnout like the weather and which teachers are on the schedule that given Monday.
I began to wonder, Why?
If it is true, why would a Monday show a low turnout rate on any week week? Why does it seem that student turnout rates for the healing art and moving meditation of yoga are at noticeably low on Mondays when statistics indicate higher rates of mental, emotional and physical stresses on this day more than any other?
Is it possible that Mondays are, themselves, so unwelcome, unwanted, even dreaded that even our healthy pastimes and passionate routines–like yoga, or writing, or reading, or going for walks–get swallowed up by our new-workweek-discontent, our Monday malaise, the Monday Blues?
I still can’t say for sure.
Maybe it’s coincidence. But as someone with a history with depression, it is an interesting correlation for me to think about how notoriously stressful days (like Mondays) might affect our otherwise regular routines, and even healthy rituals.
I have my own theory about the Monday Blues and why Monday daunts us and burdens us as it seems to.
Although I don’t work in an office or have a traditional 9-to-5, the Monday Blues still have their effect on me from time to time.
After five and a half years of self-employment as a creative entrepreneur–and having spent my Mondays across tens of thousands of miles, 11 countries, for years in cities like Boston and New York–that Monday would feel just like any other day. Even this past autumn, I noticed Mondays having an effect on me. So in early October, I started to sit down and dig deep to answer why.
First, I assumed that my Blue Mondays could be to blame for a lack of planning or scheduling for what this new work week was to entail. Maybe being “jolted” back into work after a weekend off was causing a sudden and jarring feeling of “overwhelm” or anxiety, and Monday was getting all the blame.
But then it hit me.
My Mondays aren’t so jolting or daunting because I’m returning to my usual workload. It’s because, when I return to my work–even the work that I love–a quiet consequence, a subconscious result, is that I spend hours piecing together a recollection of life’s work. It’s not just the To Do list that’s jolting; it’s having to remember my mission, and reconnecting with my purpose.
Fulfilling obligations and responsibilities every Monday isn’t as overwhelming as recollecting what I believe about my life’s meaning, and what I wish to do to leave behind a legacy of love, and questioning if how I am living and working are on point with my purpose.
Monday is only the day we return to work, our studies, obligations and responsibilities.
Monday is when we are forced to recall, even subconsciously, the intent and purpose of the lives that we are living, today.
It takes extra time, effort and energy to gather ourselves back into whatever missions, goals and obligations are at hand. Not only are we expected to fulfill those tasks–we need to remember why we’re doing them. We quietly feel the upswell of need to remember why we are here or, if we’re off-target, to craft a new understanding of why we’re here.
It’s not just that it’s Monday that can spark these doubts and questions.
Every rudimentary aspect or common task of the week that “starts again” on Monday subtly prompts our hearts and minds, even without a whisper, to question it.
The morning commute prompts us to question, “Do I really need to do this? Why am I here?”
Checking our inboxes, we silently debate, “Is this how I should spend my time? My effort? My energy?”
Scheduling tasks for the week ahead invites a debate of merit and worth, balancing and assessing, debating and wondering, “What comes first? What do I need to do? Do I really need to do it, or is it a belief I can afford to question, challenge, or maybe leave behind?”
On Mondays, we silently debate the purpose, meaning, significance, worth, merit and value of everything we are doing with our lives and the manner in which we are living.
And if we’re happy. Fulfilled. On-point. Truly free. In love. Distracted. Off-track. Empty. Hollow. Missing something. Unsure.
It is a privilege of a dilemma to debate questions of how to live our best lives–how to thrive, how to flourish.
Even still, for a simple Monday, that is daunting.
If coming back to Monday brings malaise, sorrow or confusion, come back to more than just your obligations.
Come back to your passions. Your purpose. Your soul-work. Come back to your yoga. Come back to your breath, your health, your community.
I wonder if tacts as simple as these can help to change how Mondays affect us–and how we treat our Mondays.
So much so, that I started teaching a new yoga class on Monday nights for these very reasons.
Creative Flow is a vinyasa flow yoga class that combines the moving meditation of yoga with the cathartic practice of personal journaling.
Creative Flow–which I teach every Monday night at 6:30 PM at Laughing Elephant Yoga in East Greenwich, RI–emphasizes the stretching and strengthening of key areas of the body that are said to contain creative, emotional and expressive energy. Opening areas like the hips, the heart center and the throat, we conclude class with a savasana (or, rest) that is designated as a personal, private journaling time for you, right there on your mat.
By using the moving meditation to open creative, emotional and expressive pathways of the body, most Creative Flow students have discovered a natural, seamless transition from the asana (physical poses) portion of class into this period of journaling to conclude our flow.
Yoga means “yoking” and represents the “coming together of” body, breath, mind and spirit. Through breath, body movement and quieting the mind, we give ourselves rare chances to feel more present and peaceful. Self-expressing from this place through writing or journaling is a natural transition.
Yoga has become an integral part of my creative practices as a writer, author and creative entrepreneur for the last three years.
More so, it’s been the combination of my writing and my yoga practice that have given me the means to stay connected to my goals, dreams, and ever-evolving direction in life.
Even on Mondays.
In my own life, I inadvertently melted these two powerful sources of self-awareness–writing and yoga–to become one.
Now I call it, “Creative Flow.”
If you are in the Southern New England area, I hope that you’ll consider joining me at one of my Creative Flow classes on Monday nights at 6:30 PM at Laughing Elephant Yoga.
Monday doesn’t have to be as bad as we make it out to be.
And if those questions of how to live your best life spring themselves on you every Monday as they do for me, I say, do yoga, write it out, and you will remember why you’re here.