It’s not surprising that few people look forward to Mondays. You’ve spent the past two days oversleeping so your body clock is out of whack, you’re facing a new week of deadlines and obligations, and you’re pressing pause on friends and family time.
But you don’t have to dread the start of the week. Try these small but meaningful steps to take on Sunday to ensure your Monday — and your entire week! — is happier and healthier.
1. Cook breakfast for the whole week.
“It’s very hard to eat healthy when you’re hungry and pressed for time,” says Patricia Bannan, MS, RDN, and author of Eat Right When Time Is Tight. That’s where meal prep comes in. It’s healthier because you choose your own ingredients, it’s cheaper because you buy in bulk and it’s a serious timesaver.
Freeze smoothie ingredients in seven Ziploc bags labeled with the days of the week, hard boil a dozen eggs so you can grab and go, or whip up peanut butter-and-banana overnight oats. Yes, your mornings will be a bit predictable, but research shows that people who stick to the same menu stave off weight gain as long as they’re meeting their nutritional needs.
2. Schedule your Monday workout.
Since research shows that people tend to start diet and exercise regimes on Mondays (due to associating the start of the week with a new beginning), take advantage of that mindset by scheduling a Monday workout.
“Sunday is always planning day for the week,” says Tina Bindner, a personal trainer in Plano, Texas. “I encourage my clients to set realistic goals for each day of the week and write how they think they’ll feel after they achieve them.”
Make a walking date with friends, make an online reservation for a boutique fitness class or enter Monday's gym session into your calendar.
3. Swap Saturday and Sunday.
For whatever reason, people schedule fun activities on Saturday and save the errands for Sunday. No wonder 78 percent of people experience a feeling of dread on the last day of the week (a.k.a. the “Sunday blues”), according to one survey.
Give Sunday some action by hitting up cheesy tourist spots in your hometown, having a picnic or going on a date. You’ll be too busy to dread Monday and you’ll go to bed happier.
4. Plan your outfits.
Taking a few minutes on Sunday evening to pre-plan a handful of outfits for the week will save you loads of time and stress, according to personal organizer Jody Goodman Dinan. “Rather than wasting precious time looking for a misplaced shirt, your energy will be focused on the week ahead and all you plan to accomplish,” she says.
Select the undergarments, top, and bottom for three days of the week and hang each entire outfit on one hanger. Do the same for a couple of workout outfits.
5. Take a hot bath 90 minutes before bed.
Soaking in a hot bath on Sunday evening, about an hour-and-a-half before bedtime, will help you fall asleep faster. One small study found that the drop in body temperature people experience when they step out of a hot tub primes them for a quicker drop-off.
And speaking of sleep, try not to oversleep too much on the weekends or your body clock will have a harder time adjusting to Monday.
Science has long proven that being altruistic is linked to weight loss, lower blood pressure and a longer, happier life.
But volunteering also has immediate perks: People who give their time are less stressed, experience less job burn out and have better work-life balance, compared to those who don’t give back, according to new research. Another study found that, ironically, people who volunteer feel they have more time on their hands.
The takeaway: Spend Sunday morning or afternoon doing charitable work and Monday will feel more leisurely.
7. Invest in a slow cooker.
If you don't have a slow cooker, you don't know what you're missing. Throw simple, delicious ingredients into a pot (here are some ideas), set the timer and walk away.
You’ll have dinner cooked for Monday and can use your newfound time to unwind after work.
8. Put flowers in the kitchen.
Scientists at Harvard University have pinpointed a pretty and simple cure for the morning blues: placing flowers in the kitchen. When study subjects who didn’t consider themselves “morning people” woke up to a small bouquet of flowers placed strategically in their a.m. routine — specifically in the kitchen — they felt happier, more compassionate and experienced a burst of energy that lasted all day long.
Pick up a bouquet at a weekend farmer's market or grab one during your Saturday errands.
9. Download a relaxation app.
Technology gets a bad rap for making us impatient, distracted and stressed out, but you can combat these effects by downloading free apps that promote mindfulness and serenity.
Some suggestions: Pocket Pond allows you to stare at colorful fish swimming, an activity that’s proven to lower blood pressure and improve mood. The Calm app teaches you to meditate against the backdrop of nature sounds. And Omvana offers inspirational speakers, hypnosis tracks and poetry. Ahh…
What Do YOU Think?
What do you do over the weekend to set yourself up for success during the week? Do you have any routines to make Mondays more tolerable? Share your tips and suggestions with other readers in the comments below.