A basket, bowls and a blanket on a window sillAre manic Mondays grinding you down? Here’s how to reclaim the start of the week, for a calmer, more balanced mindset. 

We’re so prone to hustle and churn these days – and the start of the week bears the brunt of our misdirected energies. It’s little wonder that 8 in 10 people suffer from so-called “Sunday night dread” when we load so much expectation and drive onto poor, overwhelmed Mondays. 

Yet, despite what popular culture – and a certain 80s band – would have us believe, the start of the week doesn't have to be so manic. What if, rather than hurtling into the week like some hyperactive greyhound, we used Mondays as a signal to start gently, and kindly? 

Object Story pick: work some cosy vibes with a striped linen duvet set

This mindset might feel strange at first, because it flies in the face of general wisdom; wisdom that tells us the more we gear up, the more we get done. Another view, however, might be that if we begin the week calmly, making a conscious effort to take the pressure down a notch, everything that follows will be easier as a result. 

As the Back to School treadmill takes off in earnest, here’s how to reclaim quiet Mondays for a more peaceful week ahead. 

Lighting a candle

  • Pay attention to how you wake up

    When you first wake up, try putting the outside world on pause for five minutes by doing some stretches, popping on the radio (for music, not news) or having a cuddle with kids/dogs/whoever happens to share your bed. Anything but phone scrolling will do, in order to slowly come round to the world on your own terms. It’s a message that you matter more than any outside clamour. 

  • Run a bath (with candles)

    Another way to resist jumping into action mode could be to take a bath. This kind of “luxury” is normally reserved for winding down in the evenings. But given our stress hormones are typically highest in the morning, it makes sense to wind down into the day, as well. 

    Object Story pick: set the mood with a Homework Store scented candle

    Throw in your favourite scents, light a candle, play some music; this is a moment where you can set the mood for the day to come. If you have kids, you may be able to involve them in the ritual; so they, too, can learn the benefits of a chilled start to the week.

    A watering can with pot plants

  • Get outside and walking 

    Our morning habits are not only helpful in the moment; they’re also closely tethered to our ability to relax come evening time. And one way to help regulate your sleep rhythms is to get outdoors first thing; not just on Mondays but any day of the week. 

    By putting as much time as you can every Monday morning for a walk/ jog/ cycle, you’re setting a cadence for the week ahead. Nothing beats getting into nature for a feeling of mindful presence, either. Drink in that fresh morning air; the rest of the world can wait. 

  • Bookmark some creative time 

    Society tells us that Mondays are for ploughing through To-Do lists; but you could also use them as a cue to re-tap your inner creator. These days, we allow very little time for creativity or playfulness for the sake of it; which is a shame because being in a state of deep “flow” – where you’re focused on an activity to the point of losing all track of time – is soup for the soul. 

    Object Story pick: store your garden seeds with a Letterpress archive box

    “Flow” can come about in anything from playing the piano to painting or even playing sports; any pastime in which you are actively engaged (so, no TV), and feel “in the zone”, counts. Flow also means being fully immersed in an activity for the sake of it, rather than for the end result. It might feel a bit indulgent to begin with, but you’ll get so many wonderful things – motivation, fulfilment, balance – back in return. 

    A box of flower seeds on a gardening bench

  • Sidestep other people’s hustle 

    While you may take the decision to practise quiet Mondays, not everyone will have got the memo. In fact, most people will likely still be caught in that frenetic, “go, go, go!” mentality; and since stress is infectious, it’s helpful to take distance. 

    An analogy from Buddhist teacher Sharon Salzberg may help with this. She suggests watching your thoughts as an elderly person might watch a group of kids in the park playing together. When one of the children is distraught over breaking a toy, the elderly person – with all their wisdom and experience – will express compassion for the child. But they’ll also bring perspective and levity to the situation; because sometimes in life, toys break. They won’t lay down on the ground and cry with the child (which would likely make them feel worse).

    You can use a similar tactic for people who bring their Monday stress into your ether. It’s great to be compassionate and acknowledge the difficulties that they’re facing. But equally, you can stand apart and give space; you don’t need to be swept into the fray. 

    To end, it’s worth noting that, of course, the weft of work and life means quiet Mondays won’t always be possible. Sometimes, you’ll have deadlines or demands you just can’t ignore. For some, the challenge will be easier than others, too. But the idea is to slowly start trying with an element or two, to chisel down that hustle default – and hopefully reap a calmer way of being. Are you ready for quiet Mondays to begin? 

September 06, 2022 — Anna Brech