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Published: Tuesday, 3/6/2007

Easy Like Monday Morning

The day has been the subject of songs and water cooler conversation: I m doing well, for a Monday. But dealing with the Monday morning blues that feeling of dread that sometimes starts Sunday night isn t easy. And you re not alone. I ve certainly had a number of clients that not only experienced Monday, but Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday blues as well, says psychologist Dr. Kenneth Nowack, president of human resources consulting firm Envisia Learning in Santa Monica, Calif.

A recent Gallup poll shows that only 29 percent of employees are truly engaged on the job, says Diane Stoneman, director of the nonprofit consulting firm Winning Workplaces in Evanston, Ill. A slim majority (54 percent) falls into the not engaged category and 17 percent of employees are actively disengaged, or as Stoneman says, checked out for a large portion of the day.

Lack of engagement is one sign of Monday morning blues and job burnout. Nowack says other signs are fatigue, lack of job satisfaction, a sense of not caring about work quality and emotional detachment. How do you know when the feeling of dread about returning to work is simply the blues or something more serious that requires professional intervention?

I think when we find a persistent pattern of someone being disengaged over several weeks or more, that s an indication that there s something stronger, Nowack says. Any one Monday, I wouldn t read too much into it. It also helps to look for possible causes. Lack of sleep is a big contributing factor. We often sleep in on weekends and it shifts our sleep clock, Nowack says.

Stoneman says many workers low spirits may result from workloads. You may be anxious and overwhelmed, which adds to Sunday night insomnia. Nowack says that stress puts you at risk for burnout and depression. But he adds that the reason many employees are disengaged at work has more to do with the people. A lot of times it s the idea of waking up on Monday morning and dreading not so much the work that I do but the relationships, he says. Bosses can lack emotional intelligence; customers and colleagues can bring you down.

Nowack says that some people who appear blue on Monday morning simply work on different 24-hour body rhythms. The morning person just takes longer to get rolling than the night owl.

Beating the blues

Make the transition back to work on Monday easier with these tips:

Start Monday on Friday. Tackle a tough task or get things in order for Monday morning. I make sure my desk is somewhat clean before I take off on Friday, says Stoneman.

Take care of your body. Nowack says get plenty of sleep; seek professional help from a sleep lab if necessary. We also find that participating in regular exercise and physical activity tends to improve mood, he says.

Prep for Monday on Sunday night. Stoneman says either use Sunday night to relax or to help hit the ground running on Monday. I have clients who go to the computer and check their e-mail after dinner and the kids are in bed, she says. This might work for some people but may make it harder for others to sleep. Stoneman chooses her clothes but also relaxes with her husband for a movie on Sunday nights.

Build social bonds at work. Nowack cites research that shows possessing a strong relationship with at least one work colleague can boost performance at least 50 percent. And he says it can really help you overcome the blahs, particularly if you have overwhelming job tasks or work for a bad boss.

Identify your signature strength. Nowack helps clients identify what they do well, so they can use it to bring them a sense of well-being and satisfaction. It can be very effective to get people more engaged in the work they re doing, he says.

Ease in on Monday. Stoneman says many people use a positive, relaxing activity to ease the transition. It might be a stress relieving ritual or a walk around the block. For some people it s journaling, for some it s reading something they enjoy, she says. Schedule an activity to look forward to on Monday, maybe lunch with a friend or dinner out.

Finally, Stoneman says you have to ask yourself the hard questions: Is it really work? Or is it that I m not able to balance work and family? What might be causing these feelings? Once you answer some of these questions, you might be able to decide if these tips or professional help are needed. Nowack says sometimes you need a sort of organizational marriage counseling to improve relationships with those who supervise you. And maybe divorce is the only option. Or maybe it s work/life balance and you can ask for scheduling flexibility, which Stoneman says is becoming more popular.

If you feel your blues are pervasive and tips aren t enough, be sure to seek help. Nowack says to start with your company s employee- assistance program (EAP) if they have one. It s free and it s confidential, he says.

Copyright CTW Features

By Teresa Odle

CTW Features



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