Significant Results

Using research findings to tell a more positive story.

"Blue Monday" Explained...

It turns out a "case of the Mondays" may just be a "case of not the Saturdays!"

You probably didn't know that there is a small debate at hand among emotion researchers with regards to drums and thermostats. It turns out that there are those experts who think of emotions as changing in a rhythmic cycle, like the beating of the drum. Indeed, there is research evidence suggesting predictable mood shifts across each week, which helps to explain popular phenomena like "Blue Monday." In a study by Sy-Miin Chow of University of Virginia, college students had predictable surges in pleasant emotion each weekend across two and a half months.

There is also evidence that these cycles revolve around a personal baseline for positive and negative emotion; an emotional thermostat. Using this baseline Chow and her colleagues were able to discover that the "Blue Monday" phenomenon is the result of the lessening of the type of joy one feels on the weekend, rather than a heightening of negative attitudes about going into work. This is good news for bosses and workers alike because it means a "case of the Mondays" may not be synonymous with anti-work sentiments. The trick for both managers and workers alike is to make the psychological transition from weekend to workweek without a sense of let down. A little mental preparation on Sunday afternoon or evening can let you re-enter the work mindset smoothly.

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What do you do to help yourself transition from the weekend to the weekday? How is this different from your weekday to weekend transition? What might you do to help yourself make a smoother transition?

Robert Biswas-Diener is a happiness researcher and adventurer.


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