"I don't like Mondays. I've never liked them," said Metro general manager Richard Page. "I enjoy my weekends, but after I watch Masterpiece Theatre on Sunday night, I'm just not quite prepared for Monday morning."
"I seem to wear brighter colors on Mondays, like red or bright green," said Nancy Reynolds, Bendix Corp. vice president and former assistant press secretary for Ronald Reagan when he was governor of California. "I also try to schedule a Monday lunch with somebody special."
"I'm not a Monday person. I don't function well on Mondays," said Kay Waters, an administrative officer at EPA who tries never to schedule important meetings or racquetball games on the first day of the week.
It's called the Monday blues, a range of feelings and moods that are commonly associated with the first day of work or school. A dip in energy, mild depression, anxiety about work piling up, guilt for weekend excesses, or just an amiable regret at leaving behind the free-floating habits of a weekend for the routine of a weekday -- in these and other forms Monday blues take their toll on many people.
Psychiatrists and psychoanalysts acknowledge that the Monday blues phenomenon is a common complaint, although they often dismiss it as part of the normal ups and downs of life as opposed to a clinical depression.
"It may be a legitimate problem," said Dr. Robert Hirschfeld, chief of the Center for Studies of Affected Disorders at the National Institute of Mental Health, "but it gets into the province of life experiences we all have to deal with."
Dr. Henry Krystal, professor of psychiatry at Michigan State University, thinks Mondays are difficult for many people, some of whom may be remembering Mondays of their childhood.
"After a weekend together, we have to go off again, discipline ourselves, and deal with the harsh realities of life again," he said. "Sunday night is a bad night for many people. They can't sleep as well and Monday may be a particularly difficult day. Obviously, folklore tells us that it is common enough for people to have noticed it long ago."
According to Dr. Frederick Goodwin, chief of clinical psychobiology at the NIMH, "People [on weekends] do indulge in some of the physiologically disrupting habits that they are more controlled about during the week, like excessive drinking and eating -- this may disturb biological rhythms. . . Monday blues may be the tip of the iceberg -- a clinical depression coming on, or something quite innocent. . . .
"If I felt blue on Monday the first thing I would ask is if I am happy in my job. Only if I draw a blank on that would I think about biological rhythms."
Goodwin suggested that if a person really wants to do something about recurring blues on Monday, they put themselves on a weekend schedule similar to their regular regimen. "In general," he said, "for people who have some instability of their biological rhythm systems, regularity of schedule is better than randomness."
Doctors say it's tough to come up with a biological explanation for why Monday is more of a problem for some people than any other day, although there are recent medical studies that offer intriguing theories.
One long-term Canadian study, for example, reported that an excess proportion of sudden cardiac deaths occurred on Mondays for men with no previous clinical evidence of the type of heart disease that prevents blood from pumping through the heart.
In an article last fall in the Journal of the American Medical Association, a team headed by Dr. Simon Rabkin revealed the results of their testing of 3,983 men for a 29-year observation period.The researchers commented that since psychological stress has been related to sudden cardiac death, return to work on Mondays may serve as the stressor in some cases.
The work of Dr. Elliot Weitzman, director of the Sleep-Wake Disorder Center at New York's Montefiore Hospital Medical Center, comes closest to offering a biological explanation to blue Mondays. Weitzman's work is based on a series of tests done in isolation chambers where volunteers, having no idea what time it is -- no windows, clocks, or timing systems -- decide when they will sleep and wake.
"The great majority of people," Weitzman said, "instead of sleeping and waking on a 24-hour basis will sleep and wake on a 25-hour basis. That is, they will go to sleep an hour later and get up an hour later, establishing a 25-hour day.
"These people are adapting to an environment where there is nothing structuring their time. . . That means that every day we must hold ourselves to a 24-hour day because the body would normally go to 25. Every weekend is escaping from this," Weitzman said. "You don't have to get to work Sunday or Saturday morning, so people get up later and go to bed later." By adopting this free running rhythm, and delaying sleep, by Monday the biological clock system has shifted so that "you have to get up at 7 . . . but you'd rather sleep until 9:30.
"So Monday morning it's hard to get up, you feel sleepy, you don't feel like breakfast. The whole thing is negative . . .," Weitzman said.
"This doesn't explain everybody's feelings on Monday morning." If Monday blues hits you on an occasional Monday, "It's a normal process," he said. "It just takes a day or two to recover from it."
Some people take a day or two to prepare for Mondays. "Saturday night I start thinking, 'Oh God, there is only one day left before Monday,'" said Wade Warner of Pepco. "On Monday, I get on the bus, I look at the people, people look disappointed, stern-faced, not eager to get back to the office."
Nancy Reynolds loves her job at Bendix, "But the one thing I hate about Monday is if I'm up late," she said. "I'm a compulsive reader and sometimes Sunday night I stay up until 2 a.m. reading journals, papers, magazines, novels, cookbooks. . . . Also Monday I know I must cut down on calories. It's the day to get my head back to where it belongs, a day for fruit salads. . . . I mostly look forward to Monday, I just don't hit the ground running, which I do on other days."
"Every Monday I read Big George," Gretchen Nelson of Arlington said of a Washington Post comic strip, "and every week he says, 'I hate Mondays.' Then I feel like the guillotine is over my head."
College students are notorious Monday-haters. "I conquer the Monday morning blues," said Pete Bielski, a senior at University of Maryland. "I sleep in until 10 or 11 on Monday. That way I can recuperate from the weekend schedule. And I avoid all morning classes."
Mondays can be made worse by Fridays. "Often on Friday, I will figure, 'Oh I will do this Monday,'" said Carolyn Morgan, an assistant distribution director for Ladycom magazine. "Friday somehow or other you make it an easy day because it's the weekend and put things off until the beginning of the week. . . . If I had to choose my least favorite day it would be Monday, because Tuesday is Countdown Day One when you figure you have three days left until the end."
Charles Stinson said he has closed his hair salon, Charles I, on Mondays for the past three years. "It was difficult to get people motivated to work on Monday so I knocked out the Monday blues altogether." Now Stinson spends Mondays by his pool and doesn't plan anything "unless it's fun."
Monday blues isn't for everyone. There are those who look forward to Mondays, albeit for differing reasons. "Some individuals may feel better on Monday if they are getting away from an unhappy home life," said Goodwin of the NIMH.
Then there are those who just plain love their jobs and start a new work week full of renewed energy.
"Monday is a good day here because everybody in our office relishes their work," said Muffy Brandon, White House social secretary. "It's an up day after the weekend and we are all refreshed."
D.C. City Council Chairman Arrington Dixon said, "Monday we come in more fired up than any day since it is the day leading into our Tuesday legislative meeting. . . . I don't know if legislative biorhythms are different. There's no blue Monday for us. It's a fiery Monday and a sizzling Tuesday."