It’s not just you: Wednesday might be the most stressful day at work

Wednesday, affectionately known as “Hump Day,” seems like a positive milestone during the week. You’re halfway to the weekend, right? But could this seemingly innocuous day be more stressful than a Monday?

Yes, according to the meditation app Balance. Wednesday is the most popular day of the week for its users to search for and complete stress and anxiety meditations.

“We don’t think it’s just by chance,” says Leah Santa Cruz, one of Balance’s co-heads of meditation. “By Wednesday, everyone’s knee-deep in their week’s to-dos, whether it’s work responsibilities or personal tasks. It’s like you’re at the halfway mark, staring down deadlines but the weekend’s still too far off to feel any relief.”

Santa Cruz says one big reason folks hit a stress wall by Wednesday is they bite off more than they can chew. “Trying to juggle too many things without figuring out what really needs to be on top of the list just cranks up the pressure,” she says. “Just as detrimental though, is channeling all your attention on achieving your goals, at the cost of skipping breaks and ignoring self-care, a huge contributing factor to ‘Wednesday Worries.’”

If you’re feeling stressed midweek, here are five tactics for tackling your “Case of the Wednesdays.”

1. Identify the Root Cause

The first and most important thing is to identify the root cause of your stress, says Friederike Fabritius, neuroscientist and author of The Brain-Friendly Workplace: Why Talented People Quit.

“Many people jump directly to things like mindfulness training and breath work,” she says. Those are very effective, but if you’re married to the wrong person, you need a divorce, not an eight-week course and mindfulness-based stress reduction.”

Analyze the situation and understand why you’re stressed. For example, if your workday is too long, consider incorporating breaks to make it feel shorter. If you’re receiving too many emails, look for ways to decrease them, such as sending fewer emails or unsubscribing to newsletters. Or, if the cause is that you have a toxic boss, you may want to create a plan to change departments or companies.

2. Use Body-Calming Techniques

Sometimes, stress and worries come from a sudden feeling of overwhelm. It’s possible to address these feelings in the moment, says Fabritius. “Neuroscience shows us that the body and brain are connected and intertwined,” she explains. “If you manage to calm your body, you can calm your brain.”

Body-based techniques like exercising, practicing breathwork, changing your posture, getting more sleep, or going for a massage, will calm your body and, therefore, have a positive impact on your brain.

“It is impossible for your brain to be stressed when your body is relaxed,” says Fabritius. “You get all those endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin, and they help to also ease anxiety and stress.”

3. Have Clear Priorities

Another way to deal with stress is to take a few moments each day to be strategic with your time and narrow down your top three priorities, says Santa Cruz.

“What’s most important and will make the most impact in your life right now?” she asks. “It might be spending time with your kids, completing a big presentation at work, or preparing for an upcoming trip.”

Once you understand what’s important, carve out specific times to focus only on the tasks and activities that move the needle forward on those goals, instead of getting bogged down with minor tasks that seem urgent but don’t contribute much.

“Working smarter, not harder, should be your motto for shedding midweek burnout and anxiety,” says Santa Cruz.

4. Start a Humor Habit

Laughter is the best medicine, and Paul Osincup, corporate trainer and author of The Humor Habit: Rewire Your Brain to Stress Less, Laugh More, and Achieve More’er, recommends doing a funny things intervention.

“Each day for one week, write down three things you found funny or amusing,” he says. “Research shows just one week of this can increase happiness and decrease depressive symptoms for up to six months. Plus, you’re rewiring your brain to actively look for the funny moments throughout your day.”

Taking a funny break can also help. Taking a break can improve your productivity, but research published in the Journal of Business and Psychology found that people who watched a funny video on their break were even more productive when they returned.

“The key is that you’re choosing to seek out and watch something funny,” says Osincup. “People who made an autonomous choice of what to do on their breaks recover better from work-related stress.”

5. Celebrate Instead of Ruminate

Finally, combat mid-week anxiety by looking for ways to use a celebratory mindset for the day. Flipping your mindset to see the positive you’ve done can take the edge off stress and anxiety, says Santa Cruz.

For example, practice gratitude, taking three minutes to write down a few things you can appreciate right now. Instead of negatively dwelling on what’s in your way, try to see every challenge or hurdle as a chance for growth. In every breakdown, we can find an opportunity to learn, grow, or innovate a better solution.

“Mix a bit of mindfulness and positive action into your daily routine,” says Santa Cruz. “It makes a world of difference in keeping those Wednesday Worries under control.”