5 Tips for Coping with Workweek Anxiety

 
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Whether you feel love, hate, or indifference for the work you do, you're probably familiar with the anxiety that can hit at the end of the weekend when you know the workweek is upon you. Even though I'm incredibly fortunate to do what I love for a living, I still face that stressful Sunday feeling (though, admittedly, it's much less intense than when I had a typical office job, but that's mostly because I work every day so there's no true start to the week for me!).

Settling my brain down on Sundays is a challenge, but I've finally come to the realization (after over a decade of working, ha!) that it's not something that's going to ever go away. So, rather than fight it each week, I've spent some time thinking about how to cope with it the best way I can. Here the five tips that help me the most when it comes to coping with the anxiety that seems to pop up right before the workweek begins...

 

1. CREATE A CALMING RITUAL. 

There's an old saying, "A Sunday well-spent brings a week of content," that I couldn't agree with more. What you do on Sunday can really set the tone for the week. For this reason, I do my best to do something relaxing and soothing on Sundays. Ideally I'd have a fixed ritual — maybe a warm bath, a walk through the park, or a creative activity — that would signify the end of the weekend and the beginning of the week, but, for now, I just try to do at least something relaxing. (I also try to work less on Sundays, if at all, but I'm still struggling with that creative work/life balance!) If there's a way to do the same relaxing activity every Sunday, I'd highly recommend it. It'll be a nice treat for you and a great way to positively transition from weekend to workweek. 

2. PREPARE WHAT YOU CAN.

When it comes to combating anxiety of any kind, one of the most helpful things I can do for myself is to be as prepared as possible. The more prepared I am for what's to come, the less I have to worry about on the big day (even if the "big day" is just a typical Monday at work!). Whenever I've had an office job (or when I have client meetings), I always prepare my outfits the night before so I don't have to think about what I'm going to wear the next day. I set everything out on garment rack and that way I can just grab what I need and I won't have to stress about what I'm going to wear. Same goes for things like lunch, to-do lists — if there's a way to prep them ahead of time, do so! It can be a bit of a pain doing the prep work, but it'll really help you start off a stress-filled day on the right foot. 

3. STAY IN THE PRESENT MOMENT. 

If you're stressed about the week ahead, it's challenging not to worry about it, particularly on Sunday nights, when it's looming ever closer. If you're a worrier or anxiety-prone, it can be tough not to let these thoughts get the best of you (even when you know they're not good for you!). One of the best ways to combat worrying about the future is to stay in the present. Schedule engaging activities (checking out a new restaurant with friends, trying some sort of exercise you don't usually do, or creating some kind of art) that'll keep your mind in the moment and distract you from your worries. If you're doing the same old routine right before a stressful day, it's going to be tough not to worry, so find something that'll keep your mind on the present moment.

4. FOCUS ON WHAT YOU ENJOY. 

When you do find your mind venturing into that worry zone, thinking about the workweek and all you have to do (or all you've not yet done! ahh!), challenge yourself by trying to turn your attention from what you don't like (aka, what you're worrying about) to what you do like. If you don't enjoy your job, this can be tricky, but, even when I've really, really disliked a job, there's always been something positive about it — like the people I worked with, the things I was learning (about the work and about myself!), the praise I received for a job well done, etc. No matter how unpleasant the job, you're learning something, and that's worthy of your gratitude. Plus, you never know where a job will lead you, so keeping an open mind to the good things (however small!) can help combat any anxiety you might be experiencing. 

 

5. CUT DOWN ON THE VENTING. 

It's tempting to chat with a friends or partner and bring up the topic of dreading the workweek, but it's not helping you or them to spend time venting about how much you dislike Monday. The "I hate Monday" mantra is an easy way to bond with others, since most of us experience some level of workweek anxiety, but the more you say it, the more you reinforce it. Your words — and thoughts! — shape your reality. In an ideal world, you'd look at yourself in the mirror every Sunday night and say, "I love Mondays!!!," but, let's be real: you're not going to do that. So, absent of adopting a pro-Monday mantra, one of the best things you can do for your workweek anxiety is pay attention to how you think and talk about the upcoming week and, if you don't have anything positive to say, at least do your best to keep in neutral.

 

If you experience workweek anxiety, you're not alone. Having had the cry-every-Sunday-night kind of job and the I'm-so-lucky-to-what-I-love kind of job, I've encountered quite a range of workweek-related emotions, and I've come to the conclusion that, no matter what your job and how you feel about it, the start of a new week can cause a lot of anxiety and stress. I hope these five tips help you cope with any workweek anxiety you might be facing, and I'd love to know if you have any additional tips, too. Let me know what you do to cope at the start of the week in the comments below! 

 

 

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Feeling Negative? Questions to Prompt Positivity

 
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For the past few weeks, I've been strapped in tight on an emotional rollercoaster, soaring up and whizzing down and then climbing back up again. My surgery went well and I'm recovering much more quickly than I thought I would (hooray!), and I over the past two weeks, I was amazed by the kind comments, emails, DMs, and texts I received after writing The Power of (Not) Telling Your Story. I've been filled with gratitude and love for all those who have shown me support — both in real life and online — over the past few weeks. The past few weeks have been filled with so many more positive experiences than I would have imagined. But, of course, I've also been recovering from surgery, dealing with the ups and downs of physical and emotional pain, coping with the flood of emotions that came from sharing some of what I'd been going through, and struggling, more often than I'd like to admit, to stay positive. 

Awhile back, I'd jotted down some questions for myself in my Notes app when I was having a tough time, and I accidentally stumbled across them again last week, just when I needed them most! (It's funny how that happens, isn't it? The things you need to see always seem to find you when you need to see them!) I thought I'd share them with you this week since they've really been helping me when I feel like my emotions are getting the best of me. 

I don't know about you, but I tend to get stuck in my own head way too often (a side-effect of being an introvert, I suspect!), and sometimes I get so lost wandering around in there that I forget that I can take action, rather than just allowing my emotions to guide me around. Here are some of the questions I've been asking myself when I'm feeling negative, overwhelmed, or just spending too much time thinking about things that aren't productive for my mental health. 

First, I like to check in to see if I've been engaging in any not-so-healthy activities that might be leading me down the road to Negative Town. I ask myself...

HAVE YOU BEEN...

  • Scrolling endlessly online? 
  • Worrying unnecessarily? 
  • Comparing yourself to others?
  • Abusing any substances? 
  • Pacing around aimlessly? 
  • Overanalyzing other people?
  • Eating food that's unhealthy?
  • Spending money needlessly?
  • Focusing on stressful subjects?
  • Hanging with negative people?
  • Thinking only about yourself?

If I've answered yes to any of those, I know I'm not on the path to Positivity City, and I need to reroute myself. Sometimes this can be more challenging that I'd like it to be. As much as I know I want to be more positive, negativity can be so alluring (and, having spent so much of my life with negativity as my default, it's also oddly comforting). So, in order to venture down a more positive path, I have to convince myself to take an action that I know will shift my mindset. Here's what I ask myself to get started...

HAVE YOU TRIED...

  • Creating something? 
  • Taking a relaxing bath?
  • Calling a friend to chat?
  • Reading a new book
  • Practicing some yoga?
  • Listening to music
  • Going for a walk? 
  • Helping someone else?
  • Learning something?
  • Playing with Barkley?
  • Completing a task?
  • Being grateful?

More often than not, one of those things will inspire me to get up (usually out of my bed, where I can be found most often, scrolling through my phone for hours, ugh!) and try something that'll help me get out of my head and out of my rut. Experiencing emotions (even the negative ones) is never a bad thing, but if you find yourself overanalyzing everything, stressing to the point that it's all you can do, or ruminating on things that are out of your control, it's not helpful to stay in that emotional state. These questions prompt me to get out of Negative Town and make my way to Positivity City. These are obviously tailored to my preferences, but I highly recommend making your own list of "Have You Tried..." to keep on hand when you're in your head and need to get out. I'd love to hear what you'd include on your list! Let me know in the comments below! 

 

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You Are Somebody: Lessons from #MarchForOurLives


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Over the weekend, I (and over 800,000 others!) attended the #MarchForOurLives protest in DC, which is now being called the biggest single-day protest in DC's history. Though I wasn't there long (good ol' anxiety and post-surgery troubles kept me from making it all the way to center of the action), I was present long enough to feel awed and inspired by the sheer magnitude of people, the enthusiasm and determination of those marching, and the fact that all of this was taking place because those who went through a horrific, unimaginable experience decided to take action. 

Whether or not you support the cause, #MarchForOurLives is a powerful movement, a shining example of what can be done when people come together for a common goal. I saw people of all ages, races, genders, and orientations. I saw those with disabilities. I saw little babies and old ladies. I saw people loudly chanting with colorful signs, and people quietly standing on the sidelines in support. There are very few times in life that I've seen so many different kinds of people come together in one place, and that alone is uplifting. But there were a few other important life lessons that I picked up while in the city. Here are just a few of the things was inspired by at the March: 

 

COLLECTIVE CONNECTION

As I wrote above, one of the most inspiring aspects of the event was the astounding number of people, many of which had traveled much further than my 20 minute drive, gathered in one place for one cause. No matter how different these people were, all of them believed enough in one issue to make the effort to attend. And DC was just one of the many cities and towns around the world holding an event. I'm not one for group activities (I generally avoid them all costs), but there truly is something amazing about so many people supporting one single cause. Even I, the most anti-group person I know, was in awe of how it felt to be connected collectively to all of these strangers, both the ones standing around me and those standing up across the globe. 

 

INFORMED INSPIRATION

Of course, it's no surprise that the event was inspiring. The posters alone could keep me motivated for ages! And those speeches...wow. But the coolest part about it, for me, was taking in inspiration in the form of various types of information. From the statistics shown on the big screens to the personal stories bravely shared on stage to the hand-written signs held aloft, every aspect held a bit of information that led me to feel even more passionate and inspired by the cause. More people doesn't always mean more information (and it's important to remember that all information isn't accurate), but something about the way everything came together for the event made me feel not only more inspired, but also more informed as well. 

 

UNITED UNCERTAINTY

One of the most fascinating and aspirational aspects of the March was that, even with all of the voices and all of the people standing side by side, there's no guarantee that change will come. Everyone participating was, and still is, united in the uncertainty of potential change. We don't know if what we did will matter. We don't know what kind of difference it will make. And being united in that uncertainty is oddly life-affirming and powerful. Generally speaking, most of us don't know what will happen for sure in our lives. Part of being human is being uncertain. But to see so many people face an uncertainty head-on, to know they're facing an uphill battle and still choosing to fight, was such a poignant reminder that, when it comes down to it, we're all united in the uncertainty of what's to come. 

 

POSITIVE PARTICIPATION

While I'm sure the event wasn't without some issues, for the most part, it was hundreds of thousands of people coming together to take a positive, proactive action. The words spoken, the signs created, and even the songs played on the loudspeaker provided feelings of hope and optimism. Yes, there was pain and anger, too, but most of what I heard and saw was focused on motivation, inspiration, and a cultivate of ambition and hope. I've never before seen so many people, all in one place, participating in the same activity with the same goal in mind. Positive participation on this level is rare, and seeing it in real life is something I'll forever be inspired by. 

 

There were moments, over the past few weeks, when I thought I wouldn't go to the March. I wondered, as many others probably did, if it was really going to do anything. I wondered, selfishly, if it was worth the time and energy. But I'm so thankful I pushed my selfishness and doubts aside and went. There's something truly unforgettable about being surrounded by thousands of complete strangers who believe in a cause passionately. There's something truly magical about standing among all of those people and knowing that you're not the only one who, despite everything that's happened in the past, believes that change is possible. There is something powerful about being surrounded by people and realizing that, though you're unsure of if and when the change will come, you are somebody and you are standing up for something. 

 

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