A fresh start on Monday could lead to a positive outlook all week long

Certified Health Coach Julie Graham explains how you can manage stress with a simple beginning-of-the-week trick
By Cherry DumaualPublished on 09/10/2018 at 11:15 AM EDT
Natalia Figueredo/Unsplash

A “case of the Mondays” doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. Research conducted by Johns Hopkins found that people are more likely to use Mondays as the day to start fresh and kick off health goals, such as eating plans or exercise regimes. And based on that research, The Monday Campaigns was founded. The non-profit public health initiative is associated with Johns Hopkins and both Columbia and Syracuse Universities. You may know their first campaign—Meatless Monday—but they’ve started a number of other programs.

We’ve partnered with The Monday Campaigns to bring Grok Nation readers new info each month to have healthier Mondays. Read the past Monday posts here.

There are many benefits to starting your week off with a great Monday. Here, we speak about setting this Monday routine with Julie Graham—a Certified Health Coach and co-founder of FRESH Medicine with her husband, Dr. Robert Graham. FRESH is practice that provides an integrative approach to health that focuses on: Food, Relaxation, Exercise, Sleep and Happiness for ultimate well-being. Julie explains how people can manage stress all week long by using Monday as a reset day.

Do you have any rituals for Mondays?

I adopted #MeatlessMonday years ago and am a huge fan of the public health movement. When we do something healthy for ourselves, and the environment, we feel better—mentally and physically. Omitting meat one day a week and eating lots of fruits and vegetables makes us feel good—and live longer! Packing a healthy Meatless Monday lunch can also help us not feel so guilty about our over-indulgent weekend.

But, ultimately, I think a good Monday morning begins on Sunday evening. I love the saying, “fail to plan, plan to fail.” I try to organize myself for the upcoming week by making sure my “space” is cleared from last week’s “juju.”

What other suggestions do you have for Sunday night prep?

Do something rewarding and relaxing. Play some music. Cook a nice meal and share it with loved ones. Call your favorite person. Diffuse some lavender or clary sage essential oil to stay calm and clear. Do some light stretching. Get your outfit ready for the next day in a relaxing way. Write down three things you’re grateful for (gratitude increases our overall happiness). Many of us overdo it over the weekend with eating and drinking, so it’s a great opportunity to actually look forward to starting a FRESH new week.

For people who hate Mondays, what is your advice?

Change your mindset! Learning about the research on Mondays really helped me to change my “Monday Blues” mindset into a “Monday Refresh” mindset. Mondays give you 52 “new week resolutions” a year: Each Monday is a fresh start, a clean slate, and an opportunity to begin again. The research shows if we adopt a good habit, or omit a bad habit—on a Monday—we are much more likely to be successful. I teach yoga on Mondays and always remind my students that they’re starting off their week “on the right foot” by doing something healthy and rewarding for themselves.

And what about for people who have a difficult time waking up on Monday mornings?

We should strive to sleep for 7-8 hours a night. Oftentimes, we are staying up too late on the weekends and then waking up tired on Monday—a sure way to feel more overwhelmed and less enthusiastic about starting a fresh week.

Go to bed earlier on Sunday night and set your alarm a little earlier for Monday. Rushing makes us feel anxious and sets off our stress response. As a meditation teacher, I recommend taking a few deep breaths before you get out of bed to help you start off your day with a more “calm and collected” attitude. Put on some relaxing or upbeat music as you’re getting ready. And sign up for the #DeStressMonday newsletter, so you get tips delivered to you every Monday morning.

Could you share three tips on how people can look forward to Mondays?

1. Know the research and adopt a “Monday Refresh” mindset.

2. Plan something you enjoy doing—on a Monday! Like taking the scenic route to work; getting together with a friend for dinner; signing up for a class, like yoga, meditation, painting or whatever you enjoy doing; or, a relaxing night at home. Cook! Eat delicious food. Laugh.

3. Write down three things you’re grateful for, because there’s always something to be grateful for—even on Mondays! Food. Water. Yoga.

What are some easy ways to make the most of Mondays?

Remind yourself that you’ve been “doing Mondays” your whole life and they are the same length as Fridays! Take mini breaks at work every 90 minutes to recharge and refresh. Our breath reflects our mood: When we slow down and deepen our breath, it helps us stay calmer and turns on our natural “relaxation response,” the opposite of the stress response, in our brains. When we are calmer, we feel less overwhelmed. I carry an aromatherapy inhaler in my purse and when I’m feeling depleted, I take a few deep breaths and inhale all the wonderful benefits they have to offer.

And follow the #DeStressMonday website and Instagram for free relaxation tips and cool, colorful graphics to help us regulate our breath, including a “red balloon” guided meditation done by yours truly.

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