Commentary: How to rewire your brain to feel good on Mondays


It shouldn’t be surprising then that cortisol levels, measured in saliva samples of full-time working individuals, tend to be higher on Mondays and Tuesdays, with the lowest levels reported on Sundays.

As a stress hormone, cortisol fluctuates daily, but not consistently. On weekdays, as soon as we wake up, cortisol levels soar and variations tend to be higher than on weekends.

To combat this, we need to trick the amygdala by training the brain to only recognise actual threats. In other words, we need to activate our prefrontal cortex as fast as possible.

One of the best ways to achieve this and lower overall stress is through relaxation activities, especially on Mondays. One possibility is mindfulness, which is associated with a reduction in cortisol. Spending time in nature is another method – going outside first thing on Monday or even during your lunch hour can make a significant difference to how you perceive the beginning of the week.

Give yourself time before checking your phone, social media and the news. It’s good to wait for cortisol peak to decrease naturally, which happens about one hour after waking up, before you expose yourself to external stressors.

By following these simple tips, you can train your brain to believe that the weekdays can be (nearly) as good as the weekend.

Cristina R Reschke is a Lecturer in the School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences & Funded Investigator in the FutureNeuro Research Centre, RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences. Jolanta Burke is a Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Positive Health Sciences at the same university. This commentary first appeared in The Conversation.

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