Sunday Scaries

Want to make your week even better? Say goodbye to the Sunday blues and learn how to look forward to the upcoming days.
A quiet photograph illustrating the concept of sunday scaries.

Want to make your week even better? Say goodbye to the Sunday blues and learn how to look forward to the upcoming days.

The Sunday Scaries:

The end of a weekend can often feel a tad sad but for some it can spark feeling of deep dread, and there is something distinctly modern about the level of anxiety many of us feel on the eve of the upcoming workweek.

For Willie, my old housemate back in NZ, Sunday evenings feel like “the being of the end of my freedom,” a dreadful period, when time feels like it’s quickly disappearing, and all of a sudden, “I’m going to be back in front of my computer, hanging out with people I don’t really want to hang out with, in a shirt I have to iron.”

It’s not that Willie didn’t like his job—he did. But one thing that contributes to the feeling, he told me, is that “you almost have to shrink who you are a little bit sometimes to fit into that mould of your job description.” The weekend, by contrast, doesn’t require any such shrinking.

The transition from weekend to workweek is, and likely has always been, a tad unpleasant. But, despite the fact that the shape and design of the workweek haven’t changed for the better part of a century, there is something distinctly modern about the unease many people feel on Sunday nights about returning to the grind of work.

“This feeling, whether we call it anxiety, worry, stress, fear, whatever, it’s all really the same thing,” says Jonathan Abramowitz, a clinical psychologist and professor. “Psychologically, it’s a response to the perception of some sort of threat.” The perceived threat varies—it might be getting up early, or being busy and “on” for several days in a row—but what is common is that “we jump to conclusions” and “underestimate our ability to cope.”

For most people the stress of Sunday is uncomfortable but ultimately manageable—and we end up coping just fine. (And just as with other forms of anxiety, some people don’t feel the Sunday scaries at all.)

“Low-grade existential dread” is how I used to describe it. The end of a weekend presented stressful questions about whether I had taken full advantage of having two days off. The questions fell under two categories: A mix of ‘have I been productive enough?’ and ‘have I relaxed enough?’. When I was doing one, relaxing, I felt bad I wasn’t doing the other, knocking off things on my never ending to do list.

As I gracefully aged, I put in place a number of practices to help me get over the Sunday Scaries and they might help you look forward to work on Monday:

  1. Each morning I make sure I have at least one thing that I’m looking forward to that day, no matter how small. One thing I’m looking forward to this coming week and one thing I’m looking forward to this month. Gaps? Start planning!
  2. I take time on Sunday to plan and review my week ahead. Did I over commit? Reschedule things now. You’ll feel more organized and in control, which can make the start of the work week less intense.
  3. Write down 3 positives about your current role: Focus on the aspects that you enjoy, such as working with great humans, solving problems, or helping people.
  4. Try to approach Monday morning with some energy and fun – Create a playlist of your favourite bangers, eat a nutritious delicious breakfast, and take a few minutes to meditate or practice deep breathing exercises to calm your mind.

Remember, it’s super normal to have days where you feel less motivated or enthusiastic about work, but if you experiment with a handful of new tactics, you can make Sunday Nights way more enjoyable.

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