Did anyone feel that sense of impending dread as yesterday drew to a close?
It had nothing to do with the day. It was a great day. I saw Kinky Boots at the Fugard.
(I highly recommend it if you haven’t seen it yet – Tsepho Ncokoane is a revelation.)
It also had nothing to do with my job. With the exception of insanely early mornings, I like my job.
There’s just something about a Monday that is universally awful, which in turn takes Sunday and gives it an edge of sadness as the weekend slowly dies.
CNN reckons we don’t have to suffer in silence, though. There are ways to combat the Sunday blues, starting with a little knowledge about why we get stressed.
Fretting over something can trigger our flight-or-fight reflex, which floods the body with adrenaline. Pulse rate and blood pressure rise. Breathing becomes rapid, and the extra oxygen in the brain increases alertness. Blood sugars and other nutrients flood the bloodstream, supplying a boost of energy.
If the brain continues to think the danger is there (cue work worries) the body keeps systems on high, triggering the release of cortisol, the body’s main stress hormone. A continuous flood of cortisol keeps us revved up and on high alert.
Ah, that makes sense. Let’s move on to what we can do about it:
Sitting on the couch crying into your leftover pizza isn’t going to make Sunday any better.
Breaking a sweat, on the other hand, has been proven to reduce anxiety and depression. You don’t even have to exercise for that long to feel the effects, because as little as five minutes of cardio will do the trick.
If that’s not your vibe, then go for a walk.
That walk we just told you about has added benefits if you do it in nature.
One study published in April found a simple 10-minute walk in an urban park three times a week reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol in study participants.
A 2013 study in the UK found simply walking in green spaces helped move the brain into a state of meditation.
Why not take advantage of some of the great picnic spots we have here in Cape Town?
Nature is one of the things that we have no shortage of, so there’s really no excuse not to go outside.
Forget Day Drinking
A glass of wine or a beer on a Sunday might seem like the perfect way to take the edge off, but as soon as that alcohol stops making you feel all warm and fuzzy, it’s going to bring anxiety crashing down on you like a ton of bricks.
It could also mess with your sleep, which in turn messes with your Monday.
Put away your cellphone and work email on a Sunday.
I know it’s hard, but it’s for your own good. You should also avoid all devices for at least 30 minutes before hitting the sack.
Sleep, Sleep, Sleep
Try and get to bed early.
If you’re struggling to sleep, you aren’t alone. Carte Blanche did an entire feature on what they’re calling “the sleepless generation”.
You can read up on some pro tips for maximising your sleep here.
Keep A Journal
It sounds silly, but writing stuff down really does help to get it out of your system. If you’re anxious or worried, journal about it.
Use a technique long favoured by stress management consultants: Write down a list of all the things you have to do Monday — or even the entire week. You can go so far as prioritising them if you like. Not only will putting the tasks on paper jump-start your Monday morning, you’ll feel like you’ve purged your worries.
You’d be surprised at how much better you’ll feel once it’s down on paper and out of your mind.
Lastly, dedicate your Sunday to things that make you happy, like yoga, a good book or a soak in the tub.
Do all of this and Monday won’t know what hit it.
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