Summer break is over; the new school year has begun. So, we’ve got to ask: how ya holdin’ up?
We work closely with schools, PTO groups and parents, so we understand that this is one of the biggest transitions of the year. Exciting? You bet. Stressful, yet rewarding? Yep. Easy to adjust to? Well…
Part of this transition is managing to juggle a variety of new tasks and pressures, from work to family to friends to volunteering to the ever-allusive “me-time,” throughout the week (and not burning out before Friday). That is why we have put together 4 simple ways to get through the mid-week slump that always seems to creep up after the Manic Mondays and Terrible Tuesdays (we may have made that one up…). Apply some or all of these ideas to your weekly routine and go into the fall season with a calm head and the tools/resources to keep it that way.
1. Create Positivity…Even When You’re Not Feeling Positive
It’s hard to be a “glass half-full” kind of person when you are exhausted from the beginning of the week and still have days before the relief of Friday night. So the simple command of “Be positive!” probably won’t do you any good during a mid-week slump.
Barbara Fredickson, a positive psychology researcher (yes, they do actually have those) published an important paper on the power of positivity. As part of her findings, we learned that negative emotions do much more than put a frown on your face. Having anxiety, stress, anger, fear, etc. cuts your brain off from the rest of the world and hones in on just those feelings so that you shut out others and limit the options for getting out of your slump. (learn more: http://jamesclear.com/positive-thinking).
Positive thinking on the other hand, clears the way for increased awareness, lasting skill-building and the exploring the resources and world around you.
So, a great way to battle the mid-week slump is to generate positive thoughts and emotions. Instead of leaving you wondering how to do that, here are a few ways that you can create positivity for yourself and others (without having to paste on a smile and pretend to be a ray of sunshine).
- Breathe In, Breathe Out: Meditation is a great way to calm your nerves and remove yourself from the overwhelming stresses of the week. Check out these 10 helpful tips for meditatingthat will keep you focused on positive thoughts rather than the 8 million things you still need to do before Friday.
- Write it Down: The Journal of Research in Personality published a study in which students wrote about an IPE (intensely positive experience) for three days in a row. Three months after the study, these students were found to have enhanced positive moods, PLUS fewer visits to the healthcare center. So, if you want to be authentically happy and avoid that end-of-the-year cold, then try writing about your happy experiences!
- Play with the Kids!: Spending time just having fun with your kids (or friends, partner, etc.) is a great way to conquer your negative emotions. As adults, many of us feel that enjoying oneself during the week is a luxury we left behind in grade school. But, scheduling time to play is the perfect antidote to a mid-week slump. (plus, playing with your kids is a vital part of forming a strong parent-child bond, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics). Note: if you literally don’t have time during the week to add in a dose of fun, try scheduling weekend plans to get you excited and create a fun goal/reward for making it through the week.
2. Redefine Your Wednesday
Your mid-week slump may fall on a Tuesday or Thursday but for most of us, it’s Wednesday. If you’re like the camel from the now well-known Geico commercial, then Wednesday=Hump Day and you just want everyone to know that and celebrate with you. But, getting up that hump and sliding toward Friday may not be the easiest of tasks.
That’s why the second item on our list of getting through the mid-week slump is to redefine your Wednesday!
Now, we’re not talking about marching through the office announcing that it is “HUMP DAY!” We have some more practical ways of making your Wednesday into a much-needed pit stop so you can get through the rest of the week feeling energized and motivated.
- Don’t leave all of the festivities for the weekend, go out on a Wednesday! Catch a movie, order take-out and commandeer the couch for a Netflix marathon, treat yourself to some retail therapy, or make Wednesdays your weekly family game night.
- Start a Hump Day Tradition. Celebrate what you’ve accomplished so far during the week and launch yourself into the last couple of days by making Wednesday the one night of the week that you do something special with your significant other or family. Maybe this is the night that the extended family all gets together for dinner or this could be mommy and daddy’s special date night. Whatever you choose, try to set Wednesday aside as a special day for re-centering yourself and getting back the energy and positivity you need to finish the week strong.
- Schedule informal meetings on Wednesday. Get some face-to-face time with co-workers, employees, neighbors, and distant friends or family to help you get through the mid-week slump! These interactions will allow you to vent, laugh, connect, and decompress from the beginning of the week.
3. Plan Ahead for Meals
Planning ahead for the coming week could mean anything from laying out all of your outfits to making sure your gas tank is full to booking that babysitter before she’s hired by your neighbor. But, for this list we have decided to focus solely on planning ahead when it comes to your family meals.
We are a company that prides itself in promoting and teaching healthy lifestyles for children, and we know that planning ahead when it comes to food is a great way to avoid unwanted fat/calories and last-minute fast food orders.
There are many different ways that you can plan ahead for family meals (and avoid having to give a blank stare when the kids ask, “what’s for dinner?”). Here are the steps we recommend you take, and we encourage you to use and alter them so they fit your needs and schedule!
- Write out your meals for the week on Sunday: Whether you keep a journal or calendar in which you write out the planned meals for the week, or you utilize an app like Meal Planner(picture above), it is important that you take time on Sunday to write out your meals for the week (or, at least what you plan on having for dinner Monday-Friday). Hint: this is also a great way to track nutritional info and to make sure you and your family are staying within recommended calorie amounts!
- Prepare recipes & gather ingredients: If you’re not using a helpful app like Meal Planner (or Food Planner for Android phones) then it will be wise to have a folder where you keep the recipes that you need to refer to for the meals of the week. You will also want to make sure you have all the ingredients so you are not forced to rush to the grocery store. Hint: some families start their week of meals on Wednesday so they can take advantage of the reduced-price items at the grocery store that typically go on sale in the middle of the week.
- Get cookin’!: One of the biggest causes of taking a family trip to the local golden arches is the lack of time available to cook. That’s why the final step in our Prepare Ahead tip is to set yourself up for success when it comes to the cooking process. Each night, make sure frozen foods are put into the fridge to thaw, cooking utensils are in an easily-accessible place, and your dry goods ingredients are lined up on the counter. This will make it easy and (mostly) mindless to get cookin’!
4. Disconnect from Technology
The 9-to-5 grind is no longer contained within the hours of 9am and 5pm thanks to the infiltration of technology in our homes, at the dinner table, in the bathroom, bedroom and backyard. We are always accessible thanks to the phones, tablets and laptops we constantly have with us. While technology is certainly useful & beneficial, it also makes it possible for your entire work-week to seem like one, long, never-ending stream of tasks & correspondence.
No wonder we have such a prevalence of mid-week burnout. Which is why our final method of making it through to Friday is to disconnect from technology when you are at home with the family.
- “But how will I stay connected with friends and family?” We’re glad you asked. Stay connected with those around you by having good ole’ face-to-face interaction. Plan ahead and invite friends and family to your home for a fun, mid-week night of games and relaxation (go the extra mile and tell everyone to put their electronics in a box!). Or, use technology for good by having a conference call with the whole family (you could also use Skype or Facetime so you can see everyone).
- “But what if someone really needs to get ahold of me?” Schedule no-tech time with your family and designate a single phone that is left on and in an open space like the kitchen counter or living room coffee table. This will alleviate any stress about unexpected emergencies. You can also make an automated voicemail message or email response that lets people know how they can reach you after 5pm on the weekdays, if it is an emergency.
- “But won’t I be bored?” There’s no denying it: technology can be fun. But, there is a downside to coming home after a long day just to zone out in front of the television or spend hours playing Candy Crush on your tablet. For one, it cuts into necessary family time. For another, it doesn’t actually provide your mind with the rest that you may think it does. Instead, try getting outside and going for a walk, playing with the kids, exploring a new park, or taking a run through the neighborhood. Getting outside has a calming and refreshing effect on the human mind and allows you to decompress from the day.
- Even when you don’t feel happy, try to create positivity through meditation, writing, and having fun with the family!
- Turn Wednesday into the mid-week refresher with activities, time spent with friends and family, and weekly traditions to look forward to.
- Plan ahead when it comes to meals by writing it down, gathering recipes, going to the grocery store and preparing yourself for easy cooking time.
- Disconnect from technology by planning face-to-face time, turning off electronics after 5pm, and finding alternatives to help you relax and refresh for the rest of the week.
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