NEW YORK – Everyone knows Mondays are a drag. In fact, the first day of the workweek is often so stressful it can actually be unhealthy.
Ideally, we could all skip Mondays in the name of stress reduction. But most of us don't have that luxury, so here are a few of the dangers to be aware of at the beginning of the week:
* Blood pressure can jump for commuters who are late or hassled.
* Monday morning headaches can hit coffee drinkers who often down extra cups to give them a jolt after the weekend.
* Depression can increase for full-time homemakers who lose adult company when their spouse heads back to the office.
* Respiratory problems can worsen for people who suffer from asthma or allergies when they go from the cleaner air in the country and suburbs into the city, where pollution is more concentrated.
Although you can't control traffic or other hassles, you can help protect yourself against stress by the way you approach the week. If you experience any of these symptoms, or if Mondays just get you down, follow these tips about how to cope with the stress.
1. Plan ahead
Take care of your inbox, clear off your desk and do your least favorite errands on Friday. It's too easy to put work off and start the week overwhelmed, but anticipating the work ahead adds to Monday stress. Leave enough time to get to work in the morning so you won't need to agonize over unpredictable delays.
2. Get organized by making lists
Make a list of errands, projects and priorities. Items on a list don't have to be remembered, which takes a lot of psychological energy and is distracting, but they do get to be checked off, which feels so good.
3. Pace yourself
Weave more exercise and play into the week so the contrast with your weekend won't be as great. If you can't give yourself permission to do this, I give you permission.
On Monday, set the alarm for five minutes earlier than usual and stretch while you're still in bed. Then think of something to make yourself smile and wait until your breathing becomes gentle, slow and even.
Any relaxation exercise is fine. The idea is to buffer the psychological shock of reentry into the workweek, and remind your mind and body not to tense up for the day when the alarm goes off after a relaxing weekend.
Dr. Georgia Witkin joined Fox News Channel in February 1998 as the host of Beyond The News. She has authored eight books including, The Female Stress Syndrome, The Male Stress Syndrome, Quick Fixes & Small Comforts, and Beyond Quick Fixes. She is also a nationally recognized speaker and has hosted her own television show Between The Sexes.