The only downside to having a fantastic weekend—Sleeping in! Sunday brunch! No annoying work emails!—is knowing it's going to come to a screeching halt come Monday morning. But instead of thinking up creative ways to call in sick, consider changing your approach toward the first workday of the week. Try these expert tips for new ways to turn Monday into an extended weekend...or at least less of a depressing day.
|Start your day by paying it forward|
If you love going to work and finding endorsements from your LinkedIn connections, why not give that little boost to someone else, says Carole Lieberman, MD, psychiatrist and author of Bad Girls: Why Men Love Them & How Good Girls Can Learn Their Secrets. "Or walk in Monday morning with muffins or lattes for your coworkers. It makes you feel good inside to start the week with random acts of kindness." (Bonus: Doing kind acts has been shown to lower stress. Check out these 13 little ways to spread some joy.)
|Wear sexy lingerie under your work outfit|
Skip the big bloomer panties (really, that should just be a rule for every single day) and don the pretty lacy undies you usually save for dates with your guy. Then schedule time to meet him after work for an impromptu Monday rendezvous—you'll see the improvement in your love life as well as the Monday blues, says Dr. Lieberman.
|Make a lunch date|
How often do you suggest lunch with a friend but never get around to actually doing it? "Somewhere on our mental to-do list is the nagging wish to reconnect with friends," says Dr. Lieberman, "but work deadlines and family issues seem to overtake our good intentions." Make Monday your day to reconnect and meet your friend for a midday meal.
|Catch a few rays|
A few minutes of sunlight in the morning not only provides a dose of vitamin D, but it increases serotonin levels, which are responsible for mood, says Francine Lederer, PsyD, a clinical psychologist in Los Angeles. "The higher the dose of serotonin, the better the mood and the less likelihood of depression." She recommends spending up to 15 minutes taking in some sun.
Here's one way to greet Monday with a smile: Starting out your week with a romp in the hay releases brain chemicals that can have a profound antidepressant effect, says Nicholas Kardaras, PhD, clinical director of The Dunes East Hampton, a luxury rehab center in Manhattan. "But the real key is oxytocin, the powerful hormone that some have dubbed the 'cuddle hormone' because it's released during orgasm and helps create a feel-good bond between you and your partner." No time for nookie? Here are 10 other ways to get an oxytocin boost.
|Plan for after-work exercise|
Check out a new yoga class, and better yet, invite a friend to go with you for double the benefits, says Janet Zinn, LCSW, a New York-based psychotherapist. In addition to the happy endorphin release you'll get from the exercise, you'll also boost your smarts: A recent study published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health shows that one, 20-minute Hatha yoga class improved participants' ability to maintain focus and take in new information.
|Wear something new|
Nothing says "Happy Monday" like something shiny. "If you went shopping over the weekend, wear that new outfit, shoes, or bauble on Monday," says Rita Eichenstein, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist in Los Angeles.
|Commute with a friend|
Motor to work with a friend or colleague whose company you enjoy and with whom you can laugh, says Roy Cohen, a career counselor and executive coach in New York City. "It's a nice way to start the week and a reason to look forward to your commute." If sharing the ride isn't an option, you can use Monday to start a new audio book or listen to some new tunes on your iPod, says Amy Wood, PsyD, a psychologist based in Portland, Maine and author of Life Your Way.
|Try a new makeup technique|
Make Monday your new makeup day and try a new mascara, a multitasking BB cream, or a lip plumper, says Kathleen Forbush Smith, professional makeup artist and founder of BABE Beauty Bar in Nashville, TN (these 2013 beauty award winners fit the bill!). "Or play around with your eye makeup by creating a sexy cat eye, adding a sparkle shadow or applying mini faux eyelash strips. Applying any one of these tips will give you a fresh outlook on a dreaded Monday."
|Take picture breaks|
Brain imaging studies have shown that the simple act of looking at a photo of someone you love can activate brain structures associated with feelings of wellbeing, and also lessen the brain activity associated with feeling stressed, says Carolyn Daitch, PhD, psychologist and director of the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders near Detroit. "Take a moment a few times a day to glance at a picture of a loved one and give yourself an emotional boost," she says.
|Eat chocolate cake for breakfast|
It's tough to look forward to oatmeal for breakfast when there's leftover cake in the fridge. So go ahead and splurge, says Amy Goodson, RD, a board-certified specialist in sport dietetics and the Dallas Cowboys' sports dietitian. "Live by the 80/20 Rule: 80% of the time eat for health and 20% eat for pleasure. A small slice of chocolate cake once or twice a week is fine." Who wouldn't look forward to starting the day with some frosting, even if it's a Monday?
|Order something to be delivered by Friday|
What's better than Friday? Receiving a present on Friday. Hop online Monday and order that pair of shoes, that best-selling book you've been eyeing, or a new waterproof eyeliner from Sephora, and pay a few extra bucks to make sure it's delivered by the end of the week.