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Mondays are disaster days for Garfield. On a Monday, Garfield is hit in the face with a pie, or loses his lasagna to the mouse in the house. One of the most popular Garfield strips in the 33-year history of the comic was "The Monday that Wouldn't Die".

Very Few Smiles on Mondays Before Noon

For over 30 years, American readers have followed the Monday musings of cartoon character Garfield the Cat. Mondays are disaster days for Garfield.

The humor of Garfield is based on a widely shared belief that Mondays are depressing. If you are reading this article on a Monday, chances are you struggled to get out of bed and going again this morning. Mondays are, at least in the parts of the world where Sunday is the day of rest, very commonly depressing.

A study sponsored by the makers of Marmite, the Australian yeast-based sandwich spread, discovered that:

  • The average time of the first smile on a Monday morning is 11:16 a.m.
  • The people most affected by Blue Mondays are those aged 42 to 54, who spend an average of 12 minutes every Monday morning complaining that it is Monday.
  • Half of workers, at least in Australia, are late on Monday morning.
  • Australian workers average only 3 hours and 30 minutes of productive work on Mondays, most of it in the afternoon.

Why is so little work done on Mondays? Clinical psychologist Dr. Alex Gardner was quoted in the British newspaper The Telegraph as saying that Mondays are a day for reconnection to people in the workplace. Workers need to have a cup of coffee or a cup of tea (or a diet soda) with their colleagues to catch up on events since the previous Friday, much like, Gardner says, cave men in business suits.

Dawdling on Mondays, of course, is a luxury limited to workers who are not "on the clock" for all their business tasks. Assembly line workers, for example, don't have the option of walking away from the line for an hour or two first thing Monday morning to catch up with their coworkers. These workers are more likely simply to be absent on Mondays, dealing with Monday blues in one or more of five ways, also according to The Telegraph:

  • Sex with a partner,
  • Sex without a partner,
  • Watching TV,
  • Shopping (at establishments where, optimally, their supervisors are not also shopping), and
  • Eating chocolate.

Oddly enough, the Australian survey did not find a role for alcohol in dealing the Monday blues.

The Monday blues are not just psychological. Korean researchers have found that assembly line workers who work six days a week have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their bloodstreams on Mondays and Tuesdays. Other studies have found that if the Monday is a holiday, stress hormone levels do not go up.

Those most at risk for Monday stress, however, may be those who work more than one job, or freelancers who are essentially on call all the time. In people who are under constant stress, even if they usually work weekends, Monday is the day of greatest risk for heart attack and accidents.

  • Bodis J, Boncz I, Kriszbacher I. Permanent stress may be the trigger of an acute myocardial infarction on the first work-day of the week. Int J Cardiol. 2010 Oct 29, 144(3):423-5. Epub 2009 Apr 3.
  • Kim MS, Lee YJ, Ahn RS. Day-to-day differences in cortisol levels and molar cortisol-to-DHEA ratios among working individuals. Yonsei Med J. 2010 Mar, 51(2):212-8. Epub 2010 Feb 12.
  • Photo courtesy of troylemieur on Flickr: