Exclude Tuesdays

When I was in school, I’d eagerly anticipate the arrival of Friday, only to confront the reality of Saturday, which meant that only Sunday remained between me and the start of the next school day.

I actually liked school, but it’s the same for all of us when we look forward to our free time away from the workplace. I may not be young anymore, and that weekend time isn’t all that free anymore, but as I sit looking at our fall weather, hearing my son in the back yard throw a ball around with his friends, and feeling the crisp early morning air, I am reminded that this time of year has been described as a pleasant, thoughtful time — a “delicious sadness” that highlights the transition from summer (the season’s weekend) to fall (the season’s work week) — and the return to school.

As a primary care and prevention doctor, I am keenly aware that the natural fluctuations of mood can become worrisome for some of us. When I was working in Vermont, with its attendant longer days of darkness, I saw many folks with seasonal affective disorder — a type of depression brought on by a change in seasons.Is it less light that causes seasonal affective disorder? Colder weather? Individual preference?

It’s probably some combination. We all are likely affected emotionally by seasonal changes, but we react differently.

Here in Delaware, we are fortunate to have moderate weather year-round. We should remain aware that ups and downs of mood can be normal, but a prolonged period of feeling down may mean you should talk with your health care provider — a therapist, physician or other professional qualified to address your concerns.

Along with the relatively few people who will need medication for this condition, there are others who will simply feel better by being aware of their emotions and getting outside, getting more exercise and watching less TV.

But returning to my analogy of the weekend, and a feeling that the workday has returned too soon: I think about how I dealt with it when I was in school. I don’t think I had “weekend affective disorder.” (Is there such a thing? Maybe there should be.) I would “exclude Tuesday.” I still do.

“Exclude Tuesday” basically means that on Sunday, I don’t think about the upcoming Monday as being the beginning of a long week. I imagine it as a day unto itself, and jump straight from there to Wednesday. We all know that when you get through noon on Wednesday, you’re halfway done. Thursday is great because the weekend is right there. And Friday — well that might as well be part of the weekend.

I try to keep Tuesday’s schedule lighter and protect it for the more enjoyable tasks I look forward to. Why not try this for other barriers to wellness? What are our Tuesdays — and can we minimize or eliminate them?

It’s not rocket science, and when I exclude Tuesday, it doesn’t make the actual time shorter, just the perception of it. But hey, whatever gets you through the week. Now if only I could “exclude” the end of summer, I would be all set and jump straight from a lazy summer day to skiing season.