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The Psychology of Hump Day

hump day
By the time Hump Day arrives, we’re shaky with excitement for the two-day reprieve that can’t ever seem to come soon enough. The weekend is a magical, mythical entity of legendary proportions. It’s purported healing power is so influential that it has become the object of American nine-to-five worship. We essentially live weekend-to-weekend, desperately dependent upon its restorative potential. We plan our schedules around the precious weekend, we feel anxious for it to come and relieve us from our daily lives. We are so swayed by it that we even conceptualize gimmicks and reminders to maintain positivity and help us get through rest of the week.

 

Hump Day is the peak of the proverbial weekly hill from which you can begin to see the weekend drawing near. Monday and Tuesday are tough to endure because we are back to the grind after the supposedly restful weekend. At the start of the workweek, the next weekend we’re looking forward to just seems unattainable.

 

From the trail-head that is Monday morning, we look out to the coming week. It is only Day 1. We see the overwhelming mountain we will be slaves to: the pressures that weigh us down, the stress that fatigues us. Scanning the treacherous topography of our week’s agenda almost feels unbearable. Nevertheless we get through it, and then it’s Tuesday. Onward we march, parched and exhausted from the work we’ve already accomplished and the thought of that which we have yet to complete. We traverse the obstacles of Day 2, and albeit wearily, we do make it through. Tuesday is done.

 

But then something happens. We reach the peak. It is finally Wednesday, we can feel the mythical light shine it’s warmth upon us, for it is Hump Day. It is all downhill from this point. We know that the work we are going bonkers to accomplish will pay off: the weekend is coming soon.

 

We feel our shoulders shrug as we relax about the tasks we must accomplish. We’ve already done so much. With the coming of Hump Day, we transition into weekend mode, and we may feel somewhat entitled to ease up on our self-inflicted expectations and pressure. Thursday comes and goes and Friday hardly even feels like a weekday. Didn’t finish the report we needed to get done? It’s fine. It’s practically the weekend, so we can get back to it on Monday.

 

We look forward to weekends because they are our days of rest. Saturday and Sunday is the time we have to unwind and relax from all the stresses we endure at work. We can sleep in and have the freedom and leisure time to do things we enjoy. After all the anticipation and anxiety, it finally happens. We are finally free.

 

And then at the blink of an eye it’s gone. When Sunday evening rolls around, we still feel exhausted and we dread the approaching work week. Where in the actual hell did the weekend go? Where is the relief we are supposed to feel? Why have we not healed and recovered from the work-week? And why don’t we feel relaxed and ready to get back to work when we wake up on Monday morning? In spite of all our efforts to relax and enjoy our treasured time off, we still somehow find ourselves tense and exhausted. The answer is simple. Our weekends don’t feel long enough because they’re not.

 

In actuality, our weekends are the time we have to take care of our needs outside of work, leaving little real leisure time for relaxation. Instead of doing things we want, which is quite possibly and understandably nothing, we must use the time we have on weekends to accomplish the tasks and chores of necessity to our home lives. We don’t have the time or mental capacity during the demanding work week to take care of non-work-related obligations, so we’re forced to do so during our time off.

 

We don’t get the chance to feel rested during our weekends because that time is pocked with interruptions. It takes time to properly wind down, to fully disengage from the stress of the workweek. So breaking up our two days of vacation by tending to our needs instead of focusing on rest and pleasure does not grant us the we require to truly detach from work, even though we’re not physically in the office.

 

Being away from work does not mean that we are getting the rest and relaxation we need. In order to better utilize our weekends, we must work efficiently every day, even Hump Day. As with rest, uninterrupted spans of time prove the most effective when working. Although our five-to-two work-to-weekend ratio does not give us much to work with in terms of a balanced life, engaging our time as effectively as possible by working diligently and maintaining an iron will during our weekdays can enable us to better disengage with our work-related stressors and truly enjoy our time off.

 

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