Inside: Whether you love Monday mornings or they’re the bane of your existence, your happiness is likely to increase when you live mindful and seasonally. Here are 7 tips for a Happy Monday. This post includes tips for mapping out your ideal day and week and contains referral links to my book or printables.
Every Monday is a fresh opportunity to choose who and how I want to be in the world. It offers a clean slate. A new beginning. An invitation.
A Happy Monday to You
Mondays can also feel harried and hectic – our to-do lists might feel long and looming. We might get out of bed and as soon as our feet hit the floor, our minds start whirling with everything that needs to be accomplished from now until Friday sundown. All the tasks and commitments and urgent requests.
And before the week even really begins we already feel a little behind.
Moving from the rest and slower pace of the weekend into the work and school week can feel hard. Similarly, shifting from winter into spring, or summer into fall, can feel disconcerting. Hopeful and exciting too – and also somewhat stressful.
We may as well admit this – and then figure out what, if anything, we can do about it.
For instance, so many people hate Mondays – and if quitting work or school is off the table, then what else might make the Monday morning transition smoother?
As a first step, acknowledging our points of stress or struggle is helpful. Then we can ask, “now what?” (one of my favourite questions) and formulate a purposeful plan of action.
We can learn how to better work with our natural wiring and literal or metaphorical season of life. We can remember that at every stage of the journey we get to define what “enough” feels like to us. We can come up with purposeful strategies and habits to help life feel more joyful every day of the week.
And we can shift our thinking to approach life differently and embrace the idea of seasonal living.
It makes for a gentler life.
My Seasonal Mindfulness Journals were created to help you put down deeper roots of self-awareness and self-compassion so you show up fully to each moment and day of your imperfect and beautiful life. Learn more here.
Why Seasonal Living?
Choosing to live seasonally is also the choice to live mindfully – awake to how our energy and moods shift throughout the day, the month, the year. How we experience changes in creativity and productivity, how there are days or months or seasons of life that feel harder or easier for us.
We might identify, for instance, that grief arises cyclically because we buried a loved one at that time of year, or because the waning light affects our mental health. Maybe the holidays trigger a sense of loneliness or we notice a tendency to binge on alcohol or food at the end of the long week.
We might notice happy shifts too – how the sunshiny days make us feel hopeful and energetic; or how just after our periods we experience a burst of creative and more extroverted energy. We might notice that fall feels magical yet wistful and that winter calls us into deep introspection and this is when we’re called into personal growth or deep work.
This is all part of seasonal and mindful living.
Instead of resisting the cycles and rhythms of life and nature, we awaken to their gifts and learn to move with instead of against them. We become cognizant of our natural wiring and learn to care for ourselves well, with more kindness and less judgment, in every season.
We remember that life is never truly linear or “all or nothing” – it’s always shifting, a tangle of painful lows and wonderful highs (with many an ordinary day in between), a mixture of stress and excitement, tasks that delight us and some we do simply because it’s the next right thing. It all works together to form a beautiful life.
We loosen our grip and do our best.
We plan ahead and set ourselves up for success.
map out your ideal day + Week
We all want different things, and we all want and need different things depending on the season(s) we’re in. What do you want and need?
At my birthday each year and then again at the end of each year, I spend a fair bit of time listening inward and life visioning. I aim to live on purpose – awake and intentional each day I get – and these regular check-ins support me in doing so.
Mondays are a whole lot happier when we take the time to listen in ward and map out our ideal day and week.
your ideal day
An ‘idea day’ exercise can help us with the life visioning process. It’s mainly about helping access our dreams, desires, or even the truth of who we are underneath all the conditioning, expectations, jumping through hoops, and trying our best to take care of those we love. Some elements of this ideal day may feel out of reach or for ‘someday’ while there may be other clues about ways we need to take (imperfect) action NOW to move closer to how we want to spend our days or who we choose to be and show up in the world.
Think about how you want to feel as you move through your days. Engage all your senses and allow yourself to truth-tell even if you have no idea HOW you’d bring this to fruition.
Spend some time envisioning the precise details of how you’d like to spend your days: what would you eat, what would you wear, how would you feel in your body, where would you live, how would you spend your time and with whom, what type of work and play do you envision? If it feels helpful, create a vision board on Pinterest or on a bulletin board and add to it over time. Sometimes we need to grow into our dreams.
This is an opportunity to get honest about what you desire but also to recognize elements of this ideal day that you can pull into your current life instead of waiting for “perfect.” Often we’re closer to the truth of what we want than we realize because we’re so focused on the lack in our life or stuck comparing our messy and beautiful life to others.
your ideal week or weekly rhythm
After this visioning exercise we can get more practical / nitty gritty and create our ideal week or Weekly Rhythm for the season the hand. It’s a good idea to check in and revise this as needed seasonal. The weekly rhythm should reflect our values and priorities on the page. it should be honest about the realities of the season(s) we’re in, and our emotional/energetic/financial capacity.
A few tips to consider as you flesh out your weekly rhythm for this season:
- Consider time blocking to make space for what’s MOST important to you – this might include connection, health/self care, and your deep work.
- As a Highly Sensitive Person and strong introvert, I like ‘naming my days’ or giving each day a clear focus. This helps me batch like-energy tasks, have fewer interruptions to my focus, and guard some days for solitude or deep, reflective work and others for outward engagement.
- Add in space between tasks and then add in some more. Create space in the week to account for the inevitable things you can’t plan for (a dead car, sick child, wonderful unexpected opportunity). In seasons of grief, illness, or if you live with chronic illness or you’re caring for someone who struggles, add in yet more.
How to Start Each Week Off With a Mindful & Happy Monday
By nature, I am action-oriented (not a fast mover or “go-getter” but always scanning for the practical application of an idea) so I spend a fair amount of time reflecting and coming up with systems for getting my needs met or building a right-sized life that feels meaningful and values-aligned.
Before we start, please note that I’ve created worksheets to help you with many of these habits so you can live “On Purpose” – they can be found in my Purposeful Printable Pack here.
These are some tips I use to make every Monday a happy one.
1. Be the Boss of Your Life
We all live with competing tensions and desires, and can easily feel pulled in many directions trying to meet other people’s needs/wants and priorities. On Sunday afternoon look ahead and establish your top 3 priorities for the upcoming week and every morning identify your 1 to 3 personal and/or work priorities for the day. You get to be the boss of your life, shore up leaky boundaries, learn to say no or not now, and show up to the people, commitments, habits, and work that matter MOST.
There’s a Sunday Intention Setting Worksheet inside the Purposeful Printable Pack.
2. Handcraft a Sustainable Weekly Rhythm
With each new season I highly recommend creating a realistic Weekly Rhythm (there’s a Weekly Rhythm Worksheet inside the Purposeful Printable Pack – and you can receive more guidance here) to use as a guide, and on which you time-block your priorities and commitments for this season of life. This takes a bit of time upfront to carve out space for (or outsource where appropriate) chores, food prep, connection, joyful movement, your deep work, etc. but it saves hours of frustration and stress. Doing this exercise puts you in the driver seat and opens your eyes to where you need to cull and simplify. On Sunday afternoon call a family meeting to discuss the week ahead and get on the same page with everyone else.
3. Pay Yourself First
We cannot pour out what we don’t own so “pay yourself first.” What do you need to start your day and week off well? What are the handful of small habits you can build into a morning ritual to nourish yourself mind-body-spirit so that you show up to Monday with calm and confidence? Ensure that on your weekly rhythm you’ve allocated time for self and health care practices. Do you need to be up just a little bit earlier so you don’t feel flustered (or maybe what you most need is permission to sleep)? Begin your day mindfully.
4. Structure and Simplify Meals
People need to eat several times a day and creating a structure for this can lower stress and help us move through the week calmer and happier. Create a simple menu plan (or download one) and on your weekly rhythm create time blocks for shopping, food prep, packing lunches, and gathering around the table. Ignoring this task augments stress and means we’re constantly deprioritizing health and flying by the seat of our pants. For a happy Monday create a simple plan for nutrition and meals.
5. Practice Mindful Pauses
Build small pockets to pause, breathe, and notice into your day. I’ve already mentioned a morning routine, but ideally, you’ll infuse your day with mindful pauses to help you check in with how you’re feeling, express gratitude, shift course where needed, or otherwise tend to your needs. A few deep breaths before a meal, a short stroll at lunch, a favourite podcast and herbal tea on the drive home, a 10-minute mediation before bed, a 30-second hug with your partner when you walk in the door – these are all “low cost/high reward” ways to live mindful and happy on Monday and every day of the week. This practice has been part of my mindful evening routines for many years.
6. Choose Good Enough
It always comes back to this, doesn’t it? Lowering the bar will support a happy Monday or happier any day of the week. We’re all doing our imperfect best, working with limitations, walking through life challenges. Notice where comparison or perfectionism suck the joy out of your day, choose to shift the bar against which you measure yourself. Remember that no matter how hard you try, you can’t control life completely and you’re not responsible for everyone’s happiness. Be responsible for your mindset and attitude about work and life – and take responsibility for how you show up – whether you’re in a season that feels easy or one that feels rough.
7. Apply the Pareto Principle to Daily Life
When we realize that 80% of our results stem from about 20% of our efforts or habits, we find the courage to release our grip on doing “all the things” so we can focus on what most matters. The pizza and wine on Friday night is less important than the 20% of foods we consume 80% of the time; we only wear 20% of our wardrobe anyway so we can reduce it to a capsule to conserve mental bandwidth; if I know that my finances are directly tied to 20% of my habits or products this helps me work smarter, not harder. We can stop chasing all the shiny things or watching what others are up to and apply the 80/20 principle to life to increase freedom and joy.
Step back and look at your life objectively. What is working well, what needs to change, what are you in control of, where might you feel happier if you simply laid down a weight that isn’t yours to carry? What do you want, are you on the right track, where are you ready to build new healthier habits?
Telling the truth is always the first step.
But then also be gentle on yourself; we’re all in progress and positive change is more likely to be sustainable when rooted in self-compassion.
Whether you love Monday mornings or they’re the bane of your existence, your happiness is likely to increase when you live mindfully and seasonally.
Happy Monday to you,
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