The shift from Sunday night into Monday morning has always been a struggle for me — even more so if it comes on the heels of an extended weekend or in anticipation of a big week ahead. As the weekend winds down and a new week begins, I often find myself wishing that I could be instantly transported from Sunday afternoon into sometime on Tuesday. (This, of course, is after I acknowledge my wishes to be independently wealthy have not been met.)
No matter how much I accomplished after the close of business on Friday, I fixate on all the to-do list items that still remain in my queue. Sally, my inner critic, grabs the microphone: “Yet another weekend has gone by and you still haven’t replaced the buttons missing from your pea coat. The dry cleaners is less than 50 feet from your front door, but apparently you can't be bothered to walk all that way to drop it off." She rolls her imaginary eyes in disgust, but stops short of mentioning the years I spent in 4-H sewing that have gone to waste.
Before I've peered outside to see what season Chicago’s weather most resembles, or even had a sip of coffee, my mind scans the upcoming week and forecasts the additional items that must be added to my list. This exercise is engineered to leave me feeling overwhelmed and defeated as quickly as possible upon awakening, preferably while I am still in under the covers. (With a pillow nearby to suffocate myself, should I so choose.)
Mindfulness is the continued practice of bringing one’s attention to the present moment, accepting the inner and outer realities without judgement. My Monday morning mental checklist is just another example of how mindfulness does not come naturally to me. Fortunately, the time I spend working on these skills continues to pay off.
Here are a few tricks I use when the Sunday-to-Monday transition is feeling more brutal than usual:
- Stay in “The Hula Hoop of Now”
Anything more than a cursory glance at what’s coming down the pike and I’m liable to get overwhelmed. This leads to careless mistakes in the present, which only make my to-do list longer. The minute I notice myself trying to live in tomorrow or next week, I take a deep breath and come back to today.
- Everything is Happening as it Should
I might not approve of the outcome — or even understand it — but the energy I expend fighting reality just depletes the emotional resources I’ll need later to either change the status quo or accept it.
- What’s Going Right?
Expressing gratitude for the parts of my day that are running smoothly always improves my mood. Even when I’m throwing a pity party because I missed my train and forgot my headphones, rattling off a quick list of things I’m grateful for begins to ease the irritation of not having my morning unfold the way I hoped it would.