Starting Your Week on the Right Foot

July 10, 2019

Tips for getting the most out of your week, from one radiologist to another.

A sentiment I’m sure absolutely nobody has ever expressed before: I’m not the biggest fan of Mondays.

So I was midway through my usual pre-work routine on the first day of the week, in a less-than-cheery frame of mind and happened to look out the window. Near the other end of the backyard, a couple of the rabbits that have taken up local residence were frolicking with one another. Cavorting in circles, charging one another in a sort of bunny-joust, and jumping straight up in the air for the joy of it (which, I’ve learned, is known as a “binky.” What fun language can be).

I could have stood there and watched them as long as they continued, but eventually their play migrated out of sight and I had no excuse to shirk my exercise-run, so off I went in a mood thoroughly transformed for the better.

There are all sorts of reasons why I might be cheery, grouchy, or of any other mindset when starting out the day, even without a proximate cause such as a looming unpleasant task or an enjoyable dream just before I woke. Some aren’t under my control, at least not in any immediate sense.

Others, however, are, and with a little self-reflection I’ve found it possible for me to diminish the chances that I’ll be starting a day of work on the wrong emotional foot. I offer a few of them-even if readers don’t find these of personal use, they might prompt some thought as to other individual habits worthy of examination:

  • Getting enough sleep. Probably the most important of all, above and beyond the host that’s been written on the physical and mental benefits of sufficient slumber. Really committing to this-and adhering to such commitment-is more of a challenge than a lot of folks realize. It is so incredibly easy to just watch a little more TV, just read a few more pages, just play around on social media awhile longer-next thing you know, you’re operating at a deficit. Steal time from yourself each night, and by the end of the week you can really be a mess. Even if you could “catch up” by sleeping in on the weekend, is it really worth playing out the increasingly-unrested cycle each Monday through Friday?

  • Exercise. Again, plenty has been written about the benefits of this. On a subjective level, I find it also gets me in the right frame of mind for the day (or its aftermath). When I exercised after work, it helped discharge most if not all of my unvented aggravations from a trying day. Now, exercising before work, I seem to be more ready to sit idle at a radiology workstation for a few hours in the morning, whereas otherwise I have unhelpful fidgety energy that wants to do anything but focus on the task at hand.

  • Avoid potential sources of unhappiness. Let’s say you find the news contains stuff that annoys, frustrates, worries, whatever about 50% of the time. Why take a coin-toss on reading it before you start your workday? Even if it only puts you in a bad mood 20% of the time, that’s an average of one day out of each workweek that it’s got you starting on the wrong foot. Save it for lunchtime, a coffee-break, or even after work entirely. The same goes for anything else that has “unhappy-making” potential: Social media, checking your stocks, playing sometimes-frustrating games on your cellphone, you name it.

  • Give yourself enough time in the morning before work. Adrenaline-junkies might thrill (even if only subconsciously) to the practice of having to rush to get everything done and barely make it to their stations on time. Meanwhile, a daily frantic tear with the looming threat of consequences for being late (not to mention screwing up portions of your morning routine, such as getting ticketed for speeding on your desperate commute) will probably not result in you performing, let alone looking, at your best. Figure out how much time you need for everything, and then pad it by a few minutes just to be safe. Yes, that means you’ll be waking up earlier to fit it all in. And to get enough sleep, that means an earlier bedtime. I find it worthwhile to include extra time above and beyond what’s strictly necessary-for instance, lingering over my morning coffee. Perhaps while watching happy bunnies at play in my yard.