Monday blues becoming an epidemic amid changing lifestyles

By Nguyen Hang   August 27, 2023 | 08:00 pm PT
Le Phuong Anh says she has not had a real day off since joining her current company half a year ago.

"I have to work over the weekends, and so I always feel my mind is not ready yet when Monday comes around," the 27-year-old creative content creator at a Hanoi company says.

"Because of that I feel reluctant to start a new week."

She says she has to work weekends since there are daily tasks to complete, albeit half the normal work, and still feels she has to put in a lot of effort.

That means she has to start working again on Monday without having the chance to recharge her energy.

"I feel drained every Monday morning. The only thing I want to do after reaching my office is sleep. I do not want to move my fingers to do anything."

She is aware her productivity is lower on Mondays but does not know what to do other than quitting her current job and looking for another that does not require her to be present on weekends.

A 2022 study of over 130,000 employees at 900 institutions worldwide by software company ActivTrak found people working for around 6.6 hours on weekends.

With their weekends partially stolen, many feel exhausted and stressed and are less productive at the start of a new working week.

Many office workers feel exhausted and stressed and are less productive at the start of a new working week. Photo illustration by Freepik

Many office workers feel exhausted and stressed and are less productive at the start of a new working week. Photo illustration by Freepik

But many among those who do not have to work over the weekends have also reported similar negative feelings.

Vu Thanh Van, 25, a HCMC-based office worker, tells VnExpress about her experience: "I don't even want to open my eyes on Monday morning, as I know I have to go to work shortly after that."

"[The fact that] that I will have to report my work progress to my supervisor makes me feel depressed and anxious."

This feeling of being under pressure often starts on Sunday evening, she says. She feels the urge to check her work progress and assess if she can complete her tasks on Monday and, based on that, if her supervisor will complain about her.

The anxiety Anh and Van experience is due to what is called the "Sunday syndrome."

This often begins on Sunday afternoon and lasts until Monday morning.

According to psychologist Tran Huong Thao, the phenomenon is largely caused by an imbalance between the weekend and the start of a new working week, which, in turn, is a result of various forms of entertainment that the current generations enjoy.

Nguyen Thanh Minh, a communication executive in Hanoi, tells VnExpress that she experiences anxiety whenever Monday comes around despite having to do no office-related work during weekends.

"I return to my hometown and spend time on leisure activities all weekend."

"So when I think about Mondays, the only thing I can think of is me having to work for the next five days before having another occasion to rest."

She often does not have much work to do on Mondays, but the workload becomes heavier subsequently. Because of that she mostly thinks of Mondays as a burden, and while she does not feel scared, she does feel tired thinking about it.

"We feel more interested in enjoying our leisure time than in working," Thao says.

She explains that people are naturally drawn to things that make their brains release dopamine, a hormone that engenders a feeling of excitement and happiness.

People traditionally got a dopamine rush when they achieved something at work.

But not the current generations.

For them watching a short clip on social media or getting updated about celebrities or the whereabouts of people in their circle with one click or touch of their screens is enough for an instant release of the "happy hormone."

As a result, people are increasingly losing interest in working.

This makes many people reluctant to Sundays since it is a sign that they are about to have to say goodbye to their happiness and getting back to something they are not keen on.

Thao suggests ways for employers and employees to overcome the "Sunday syndrome."

"Employees should rethink their positions, abilities, and passions to regain their motivation for working."

Employers have to reconsider workers’ ways of working, for instance reducing their workload on Monday mornings to ease them back into the office groove, she says.

Otherwise, many among them will experience a lack of motivation at work.

"I always ask myself why I have to stick to this job and feel like this every Monday," Anh says.

"I think about quitting all the way from my house to my company."

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