Heart attacks are most common on Mondays.
Your risk of having a heart attack on a Monday is 20% higher if you're male and 15% higher if you're female. Interestingly, your lowest chance of having a heart attack is on a Saturday. If you work a traditional Monday - Friday workweek, the correlation is clear. Stress levels spike on Mondays when we start the workweek, and are at the lowest on the weekend.
I had consistent sleep struggles over the last two years, and I found that Sunday nights were the worst sleep nights. The anxiety and anticipation of the workweek made it impossible to sleep well, and the poor sleep set me up for challenging week.
It wasn't until recently that I really recognized how unhealthy my perception of Mondays was, and that I needed to shift that perspective and release myself from the control it had over me via anxiety.
I had lost sight of the fact that I am 100% in control of how I respond to stressors.
It's time to flip the script on Mondays! Here are some tips to take back your power and make the most of the start of the week.
1. Prioritize and Plan.
Make a plan on Sunday. Take 20 minutes on Sunday evening to check your email, and identify key items that need to be addressed. Make a priority list, and assign the top 3 - 5 priority items to be addressed on Monday. Everything else can be addressed later in the week. Assign a specific day during the week to address each of the remaining items. If you have the time and energy, respond to simple emails/action items that you want to check off you to do list.
2. Carve out work time.
Strive for meeting-free Mondays. I avoid scheduling meetings and appointments on Mondays as much as possible. To support this, I block off the entire day on my calendar and earmark it as project time. This ensures that I will be able to prioritize and address the items that I identified on Sunday night, and maintain progress on current projects. If I'm really entrenched in a project with an upcoming deadline, I set up an out of office message alerting my colleagues that I am focused on a project, and will get back to them as soon as I can the next day.
Of course I still have meetings or appointments occasionally on Mondays, but I'm working hard to make it a habit not to overschedule myself on the first day of the workweek.
Many teams schedule their sync-ups or weekly check-ins on Mondays. I was recently discussing this with a mentor who is a former industry executive, and told him my new approach to Mondays. He agreed that Mondays were always the most stressful for him and his staff (he's retired now), and for that reason he always scheduled staff meetings on Wednesday. Work with your team to identify the best day of the week to meet and strategize.
3. Mondays are for me.
Plan something to look forward to on Monday. It could be something during the work day, such as ordering lunch or running out for specialty coffee to break up the day. I like to treat myself to juice from a nearby juice bar or try a new meditation during my break.
It could be a self-care activity after the work day, such as going for a walk, trying a new workout class, reading a book, or taking a bath. If you have a family, engage them in the process. Ask them, what is something fun we can do together at the end of the day? Perhaps a board game, a puzzle, reading together, or cooking a favorite meal.
The greatest wealth is health.
If you'd like more support on anxiety, prioritization, or any other challenges, please don't hesitate to email me directly here to schedule a free consultation.
Dr. Lori Ana Valentín is an analytical chemist who holds doctorate and master’s degrees in chemistry from Binghamton University as well as a bachelor of science in biochemistry from SUNY Fredonia. She applies her perspective as a scientist to create unique wellness and professional development solutions.