What do Mondays, the dentist, and cleaning toilets have in common? You probably guessed it: They all have a bad reputation. But reputation aside, I happen to dig all three, and for the same reason: they each give me that satisfying fresh-start feeling.
Of all the fresh starts, I most relish Mondays (as good as that shiny, polished-tooth feel may be). Not only do I enjoy the fact that Monday starts a new week, and I can put whatever happened in the last week behind me, but also I appreciate that Mondays have the potential to influence the vibe of the whole week ahead.
I have found that I am more motivated to engage in healthy habits on Monday and that how I approach Mondays influences how I experience the rest of the week. For instance, if I stay focused on my to-do list on Monday instead of being distracted by the allure of internet deep dives and mindless phone scrolling, I tend to maintain concentration and productivity more easily throughout the rest of the week.
For this reason, it feels especially important for me to start Mondays on the right foot. That said, here are four habits that I make a part of every Monday:
I connect with a long-distance friend or family member
Significant research shows that strong relationships are what make for a happy life. But strong relationships, like strong muscles, take effort to build and consistency to maintain. Some of my relationships, namely the ones with the family I live with and the friends whom I see regularly because of proximity, are fairly easy for me to keep strong, but other relationships I often end up neglecting because “keeping in touch” is not my strong suit.
I’ve found that a little goes a long way when fostering connection, though, and so each Monday I try to text, email, write a snail mail note, or call one of my long-distance friends, cousins, siblings, or other relatives. These little moments serve to both nourish our relationship and make me happy.
I “eat the frog”
As an avid reader of productivity and time-management books and blogs, I’ve heard the expression “eat the frog” for years, but I just learned in writing this article that the saying is attributable to Mark Twain. Supposedly, this great American writer once said that if you begin your day by eating a live frog, you can proceed with the satisfaction and relief of knowing that the worst of your day has already happened. Translated to more realistic guidelines: Do the task that you dread most right off the bat.
What this usually means for me is that my Monday morning includes a phone call involving teleprompts, bad hold music, and eventually a bored and unpredictably helpful/helpless customer service or office worker. Does anyone enjoy calling insurance companies to contest bills, the car mechanic to schedule an oil change, or their pharmacy to request a refill? Probably not, but alas, these are the tasks that adulthood requires of us.
By getting my “frog” out of the way first thing Monday morning, I enter the week without the task weighing on me.
I go to bed early the night before
Okay, this isn’t technically a Monday habit, because it happens the night before. But if we’re open to letting the doom of Monday impact our weekend (hello, Sunday Scaries!), why not let the work that it takes to make Monday good begin a dozen hours early?
If I could name only one predictor for how healthy, productive, and content I feel in a day, it is whether or not I had a good rest the previous night. As anyone who has ever struggled with insomnia knows, there is only so much that we can do to impact our sleep, but for me, one of those things is going to bed early.
It’s always tempting to fill my late evening hours with other tasks and leisure activities (oh, how I love an evening walk, bath, friend-Zoom, reading hour, or, better yet, all of the above), but when I manage to go to bed by 9 p.m. (go ahead, call me a Grandma!), I feel so much better the next day. And if I begin the week feeling well-rested, the sense of energy motivates me to stick with getting enough sleep as the week goes on, thus creating a virtuous cycle of rest and energy.
I wear an outfit or accessory that I love
I was hesitant to include this habit because it sounds so, well, vain. How we look on the outside shouldn’t contribute to how we feel on the inside, should it?! Perhaps not, but I have found that if I feel comfortable and confident in an outfit I am less inclined to be distracted by discomfort and am therefore more focused on whatever I need to be doing. On top of that, I’m a sucker for beauty. I love a good sunset…and I also love a sunset-colored necklace! And that’s okay. Wearing something that feels good and looks good starts my week with a spark of joy and a buoyancy that carries me into the rest of the week on a positive note.
Mondays, like going to the dentist and cleaning the bathroom, may not be at the top of the list of your favorite things. But regardless of how you feel about the first day of the work week, starting your Mondays with life-giving habits can positively impact the next six days ahead. Text that out-of-state friend or wear that sparkly scrunchie! Why not give it a try?