Have you ever wondered why Monday elicits such negative emotions? There appears to be a general consensus over this experience that can be observed on social media platforms through humor, venting Facebook statuses, and the use of memes. Well this angst appears to be correlated to something bigger than a socialized norm one picked up on and is actually not isolated to the adult population. As some of you may know, school age children also are not necessarily fond of the start of their school week. In a society where Friday stands for freedom and Mondaze signify responsibilities, it would make sense that people may not be in the best of moods regarding the latter of the two.
A study of daily mood variation in employed adults published in the January 2010 issue of the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology describes this experience as the 'weekend effect'. The weekend presents us the opportunity to choose how we fill our time, whether that is bonding with family or friends, personal ‘me’ time, or engaging in hobbies; it is our freedom of choice that is so appealing. Richard Ryan, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester discusses the study by noting all considered variables: “The results demonstrated that men and women alike consistently feel better mentally and physically on the weekend. They feel better regardless of how much money they make, how many hours they work, how educated they happen to be, or whether they work in the trades, the service industry, or in a professional capacity. They feel better whether they are single, married, living together, divorced, or widowed. And, they feel better regardless of age.”
We live in a society that tends to prioritize professional success over, let's just say, family. This specific example is evident in the limited allotted time to paid maternity leave, demonstrating little regards to the importance of parent-child bonding time to the child's developing (which could even benefit society in the long run). This brings attention to how one's experienced wellness is dependent on more than just their professional achievements. Rather, the weekend’s appeal derives from the provision of free time and thus the freedom to actively meet one’s basic need for autonomy and relatedness. With that in mind, no wonder so many people experience Monday blues.
If you find that there is limited time to dedicate to other valuable parts of you (lover, artist, introvert) to the point that it is triggering negative consequences, including anxiety and depression, it may be beneficial to work with a cognitive behavioral therapist. A rational emotive behavioral professional specializes in examining how barriers are being maintained in our lives through our irrational belief systems (“I must never use my vacation time otherwise my colleagues will think I am lazy”) and how they contribute to the negative consequences experienced. It is collaborative work that aims towards the development of useful tools to aid in re-prioritizing your life to more consciously incorporate aforementioned valuable parts of you into your daily routine. In doing so, the 'weekend effect' may not be such a normalized experience, rather, striving for balance and advocating for the importance of well-being could become a trend more commonly portrayed in memes and supported in work environments and educational systems.
Lauren is a Therapist in New York providing relationship counseling and sex therapy for individuals and couples. Are you ready for insight and change?