ways to make Mondays less painful

Other times we spend the weekend getting things done (cleaning, running errands or driving the carpool to soccer). We’re being productive, but we’re doing so in a way that engages us. We are accomplishing things; we are getting things done in an uninterrupted way. Then you go back to the office on Monday (or back to your “real world” responsibilities) and there’s way less autonomy and feeling like you’re accomplishing things, Ekman says. It’s a letdown.

There are also times when in our jobs (or other commitments) that we feel underutilized, under-stimulated and disengaged. “It’s not burnout. It’s another level of despair, though, in that you don’t feel like what you’re doing is productive or makes a difference at all.”

Note if it’s burnout

Burnout can happen in a few different ways. There’s emotional exhaustion (it’s the type of burnout where you need some time to yourself to reset, like a vacation or just a quality meal at the end of a long day with someone you care about), which is very common. There’s lack of efficacy (where you feel like you can’t finish what’s expected of you). And there’s the more severe type of burnout, which is when you become cynical about your work (or whatever it is you’re burnt out on). “You don’t care and you’re checked out.”

If you feel like you experience any of these types of burnout chronically and persistently, it may be time (if you’re able to and have the resources to do so) to look for a different job, says Ekman — because burnout can really affect our mental health and wellbeing.

Signs you’re burned out (at work or in another role you have) include: you bringing negative feelings home with you; when your cynicism about your job affects your interactions with your friends and family; and if you feel blah, bleak or disconnected from your normal routines. If such feelings persist for more than a couple of weeks, consider seeking counseling or professional advice. “Burnout is not a one day experience, it’s a persistent experience that lasts weeks. You may have a bad Monday, but not be burned out.”

Save a little bit of weekend fun for Mondays

No matter how hectic or harried your Monday gets, remember it won’t last forever. It can help to plan something to look forward to at the end of your Monday, like dinner with a partner or friend, a yoga or spin class you love,

Make time for people and for play on Mondays, too

Again, everybody’s work is different and everybody’s time off is different. But for a lot of us what does differentiate work from time off in a big way is that when we’re off, we choose what we want to do and who we want to do it with. It’s that social connection that’s one of the biggest rewards we can give ourselves, Ekman says — and it’s why the weekends tend to feel so good.

Take breaks

People were not made to sit and use technology for hours at a time every single day. Taking breaks (ideally ones of about 10 minutes every 60 to 90 minutes) helps. “Spend time in nature; talk to someone (but not about work), exercise.

Frame your thinking for the week

A weekly practice is always helpful to do a retrospective and prospective meditation at the end of every weekend. It’s a practice that helps us realize and make space for what has happened and what will happen. It can strengthen our attention and focus, and actually improve our ability to notice what’s going well in the present,