10 ways to rock a dreary Monday

This time of year, in the Northern Hemisphere, mornings are dark and dreary, and Mondays can be the biggest challenge. Especially when you're already feeling low energy and depleted from all the changes that divorce brings.

Here are my top ten strategies to make going back to work on Mondays a happier and more rewarding experience.

Get a head start that sets you up for the whole week:
1. Have a warm and nourishing crock pot meal ready to simmer for Monday night dinner, so it's effortless when you get home. Have everything in the crock pot, in the fridge on Sunday night, so all you have to do is take the pot out of the fridge, set it into the heating element, and turn it on.

2. Get your wardrobe in order for the entire week in advance. Pull out five outfits, with all lingerie and accessories already placed on the hanger for each day. You can use this process to weed out your closet, too. As you try on clothing items, if they're too worn, don't fit right, or don't make you feel good, put them right into the donation bag for the thrift store, not back in your closet. This process will take just one hour once a week, and you'll enjoy more variety in your workplace attire instead of relying on the same outfit or two over and over. When you look good, you feel good -- and you'll be more relaxed when you don't have to make a clothing decision each and every day.

3. Get all your weekday lunches sorted in advance, too.  If you make a crock pot dish over the weekend, you can put individual portions in the refrigerator or freezer for your lunches during the week. Make sure you have individual-size yogurts or other favorite healthy snack items so that you have your lunches preplanned.

4. Get to bed on time so that you have plenty of rest.  Start to wind down about an hour before bedtime. Turn off the television and step away from your computer and phone.  Try a little yoga for relaxation, 20 minutes with a good book full of self-nurturing thoughts, and a small glass of red wine or a nice warm cup of herbal tea. Just after you turn out the lights, prayerfully release all stresses and worries, knowing that getting a good night's sleep is the best thing you can do for your future.

Feeling good from the start:
5. Create a Monday morning wake-up ritual that you love. Set your phone alarm to wake you up to a favorite song, have a special treat ready for breakfast, have an inspiring audio book ready to play on your commute. The basic idea is to make morning as cozy and luxurious as possible. No chaos, no rushing, no tension.

6. Just before you start work, do a quick week-starting ritual that sets you up for the day. Here's a suggestion: Center yourself with a few slow, deep breaths, and write your personal intention for the day on a post-it note, keeping it where you can see it during your workday

7. Keep a few fun rewards in view as the day progresses: A delicious lunch that you're looking forward to eating, a mid-afternoon treat of some kind, and definitely something fun to look forward to after work.  More on this below, under "reward yourself for your magnificence."

8. How about a 10-minute late lunchtime nap at your desk while listening to soothing music or a motivational .mp3? Go to youtube.com and search for the emotion you want to feel, such as confidence, relaxation, or abundance.

9. Preschedule a mid-afternoon break that is truly a break.  Walk away from your desk.  Talk to someone you like.  Connect, even for just a few minutes, with an activity you love.  Make your break something that you really look forward to.  Can you work from a cafe for an hour in the afternoon?  Can you take a brisk walk for a few minutes outdoors?  A change of locale can really help.

Reward yourself for your magnificence:
10. Reward yourself with something special after Monday's workday is done:   Have a few videos queued up that you can't wait to watch (allow yourself to veg a little; it's Monday).  You've already arranged for dinner -- it's in the crock pot, so all you need is a bag of mixed greens and some salad dressing -- so there's no dinner to prepare.  Unsure how to reward yourself?  I'm always in favor of having a 25 Little Luxuries List handy, so you can always quickly choose a treat for yourself . . .

Steps to make this happen:
Before the weekend (total time is about 3 hours, and most of this research is reusable):
  • Come up with some yummy, quick recipes for lunches and Monday night dinner. Try epicurious.com or just search "quick lunches for work" and "crock pot meals" on Pinterest for lots of fun ideas. (Don't own a crock pot? You can buy one for less than $30.) 
  • Shop before the weekend (when the grocery is less-crowded) or have your groceries delivered
  • Make a playlist of music that inspires you. You can use this list to wake up to a different song every morning, and have some tracks to enjoy as you dance your way to getting ready for work. Everyone needs at least a few favorite songs on her phone! 
On Saturday or Sunday (total time is about 3 hours, and it gives you a much, much more relaxed week):
  • Arrange your outfits for the entire workweek (with all accessories on the hangers). Once you do this the first time, every week it will be easier (and it will make you feel so fresh and ready for anything). 
  • Cook a couple of dishes for weekday lunches, and pack individual portions in the fridge. 
  •  Have your crock pot meal ready to plug in on Monday morning. 
On Sunday night:
  • Shower and wash your hair to streamline preparations on Monday morning.  
  • You've already pre-planned so well that your Sunday night can be very relaxing, so savor the satisfaction of having a wonderful strategy for a painless (and, dare I say, fun) start to your workweek. 
Have your own tips to feel happy about Mondays?  Please share in the comments below!