‘TGIF’, ‘Monday Blues’: Have We Conditioned Our Brain To Feel Dread On Weekdays?

Why do we associate certain days of the week with certain emotions? Have we conditioned our brain to do this?

4 min read

“Thank God It’s Friday!”

If you woke up feeling this way today, chances are you’re either a student or a working professional who is tired of the week that just went by and is waiting for the weekend.

The ‘Friday feeling’ phenomenon is something a lot of people experience – a certain sense of joy that the week is ending and you’d get two days to unwind.

This is quite the opposite of the ‘Monday Blues’ feeling that often entails a bunch of negative emotions – most prominently, the dread of a new week beginning. 

But have you wondered why we associate certain days of the week with certain emotions? And whether we’ve conditioned our brain to feel those emotions?

FIT spoke to experts to understand this better. 


Dissatisfaction With Job, No Work-Life Balance: Why We Dread A New Week

Dr Jaya Sukul, Clinical Psychologist at Faridabad’s Marengo Asia Hospitals, says that when it comes to negative emotions at the beginning of the work week, it often boils down to a dissatisfaction with what you’re doing or a lack of work-life balance at your workplace.

“People who are dissatisfied with their work or their lives feel such things. When a majority keeps cribbing about how dissatisfied they are, others also start catching up on that. The root is displeasure, but it can also be projection.”
Dr Jaya Sukul

Dr Sukul goes on to add that careers you might not be invested in can lead to feelings of exhaustion and a general hatred for Mondays because that’s when you’re forced to confront work again. 

Scientifically, 'Monday Blues' might include feelings of lethargy, lack of motivation, and a general sadness. Cognitive incoherence might also be a symptom.

But it feels pretty one-dimensional to say that someone would hate Mondays only because they’re unhappy at work. Didn’t Garfield hate Mondays too? And he didn’t even have a job!
Why do we associate certain days of the week with certain emotions? Have we conditioned our brain to do this?

Dr Rituparna Ghosh, Consultant, Psychology, at Navi Mumbai’s Apollo Hospitals, attributes these negative feelings to the “excessive stressors” around us.

She tells FIT,

“If your brain is not getting proper rest or you’re experiencing symptoms of burnout, you might find it tough to switch to the ‘active mode’ at work. In such cases, you might harbour negative feelings about your job and Mondays.”

However, not everyone who experiences 'Monday Blues' or 'Sunday Scaries' (the fear of an incoming Monday) is demotivated because of their workplace.

It's a pretty normal feeling to have, especially because one is returning to their job after two days of not being obligated to entertain any work.

'Friday Feeling': Holding The Last Straw Through It All

Various studies conducted over the years have shown that as opposed to the Monday dread, Fridays are much more relaxed for people. This, however, does not mean that they’re not productive.

A study conducted by the University of Warwick showed that “happiness made people around 12 percent more productive.”

And it’s not just that people are happier because they get to unwind over the weekend.

A 2010 study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology said that the ‘weekend effect’ is “largely associated with the freedom to choose one's activities and the opportunity to spend time with loved ones.” 

The study also found that people across the board experience “better moods, greater vitality, and fewer aches and pains from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon.”

Ironically, because people are much more relaxed on the weekends, another feeling sinks in that Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays pass by quicker than other days.

A 2011 study titled Emotion Colors Time Perception Unconsciously stated,

“Negative emotional stimuli elongate the perceived duration of the frame stimulus in comparison with positive and neutral emotional stimuli.”

Is There Anything You Can Do?

Experts do say that there are certain things you can do to avoid Monday Blues or to let go of the feeling that your Sundays pass by way too quickly.

  • Take micro breaks during the work day

  • Plan active means of relaxation like going to a spa or getting a massage

“The problem is with the lack of micro breaks, self care, and not planning your breaks or weekends. If you have some sense of control and take charge over them, you’d be able to relax more.”
Dr Jaya Sukul
  • Do some form of mindful exercises like jogging or yoga

  • Take out time for yourself

  • Get proper rest and maintain a proper sleep cycle

  • Eat well

Dr Ghosh adds that if you frequently feel blues though, you should try to identify the triggers of what might be causing them.

And again, while these feelings are normal, if you excessively feel dread or negative emotions, it's a good idea to introspect and consult a professional for help.

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