Take a moment to think about how you tend to feel on a Sunday afternoon as the work week creeps up on us. If your answer is full of anxiety and dread, then you’re likely suffering from a case of the Sunday Scaries! It might sound like a gimmick, but the Sunday Scaries, like any other anxiety condition, are no joke.
In fact, studies show that almost 70% of British and American employees struggle with feelings of dread, anxiety, and stress before their alarm clock goes off on a Monday morning. This cycle of elation as the clock strikes home time on a Friday followed by the black cloud that starts to settle on a Sunday afternoon can make you feel like you’re stuck on a hamster wheel, a never-ending cycle of dreading every Monday as it inevitably rolls around once again.
Why do we get the Sunday Scaries?
A term that has grown in popularity over recent years, the Sunday Scaries are the heavy sense of dread, and anxiety that sets in on a Sunday afternoon as you think about the upcoming work week. No matter what we do to fill our coveted free time on the weekend, it never quite feels long enough, and soon the pressure of work responsibilities, deadlines, and an early start in the morning starts weighing down on you.
In fact, the Sunday Scaries is simply another name for anticipatory anxiety, or the anxiety that comes from something we haven’t actually done yet. It’s the same kind of anxiety that crops up before we go travelling or to a big social gathering for example.
For some people, the worry about a mounting to-do list and overflowing in-tray is enough to set their pulses racing and wishing for time to stand still, for others the anxiety comes from having to go into the office. Whatever the cause of the Sunday Scaries, the anxiety response can be draining and overwhelming.
During the weekend, when we’re letting our hair down with our friends or eating too much with our families at Sunday lunch, the cognitive load on our brains is significantly lowered. You let your guard down and push the thoughts of work tasks to the back of your mind and enjoy your free time while you have it. However, when Sunday afternoon rears its ugly head, it can take a lot of mental preparation to get ourselves back into ‘work mode’ and ready to tackle the upcoming week. The anxiety that comes from the Sunday Scaries can come from our brains getting geared up to use those parts we swept under the rug as we enjoyed our time off.
There are so many triggers for the Sunday Scaries it can be hard to pinpoint exactly why you are filled with dread at the thought of going to work the next day. It can stem from anything mundane like a busy upcoming week or a few stressful deadlines, to a lack of fulfilment from the work you’re doing, or a hostile environment. In order to really crack down and banish the Sunday Scaries, it’s important to take some time to work out exactly what is making you drag your heels on the way to the office!
How do you know if you have the Sunday Scaries?
Like other anxiety conditions, the Sunday Scaries have much the same symptoms. If your Sunday Scaries are a little more intense than feeling full of dread you might be experiencing some of the following symptoms:
- Increased heart rate
- Upset stomach
- Difficulty breathing
- Trouble sleeping
- Muscle tension
How to get rid of the Sunday Scaries?
You certainly aren’t the only person who thinks ‘ergh, it’s Monday tomorrow’ but the good news is, there are a few tips and tricks that you can easily implement in your weekend and weekday routine to help make Monday mornings a little less scary. It’s all about treating yourself and finding joy in little things, as well as prioritising a healthy routine. Try these 7 ideas and watch the Sunday Scaries become a distant memory.
- Get your tasks done on Friday
To avoid a jam-packed to-do list weighing on your mind over the weekend, try and complete all your jobs and tasks on Friday before you leave work for the weekend. By starting Monday with a clean slate you won’t have a huge pile of jobs to work through getting you down on Sunday.
If finishing all your tasks on Friday isn’t feasible, then write up your plan for the coming week instead. That way, you aren’t scrambling to do it on Sunday night and getting yourself worked up for the busy week ahead. By planning your week in advance, you can enjoy your Sunday afternoon off work and go to work the next day feeling prepped and ready to tackle the week.
- Treat yourself on a Monday morning
To make the morning seem less like a black hole, plan to do something that you enjoy before you get to work. That way, you’ll be going to bed and waking up looking forward to that, rather than dreading going to work. Maybe it’s treating yourself to your favourite coffee on your way into the office, or waking up a little earlier to cook your all-time favourite breakfast before the day starts.
- Change your mindset
By shifting your mindset from negative to positive you can reframe your mind to see the upcoming week as a challenge you’re ready to tackle or ease your worry by reminding yourself you’ve got this. Practicing daily affirmations can help to rework your mindset, boost your self esteem, and improve your mood. By altering the neural pathways in your brain, your new positive outlook won’t perceive Sunday evenings and Monday mornings as a threat, but as a challenge you’re more than capable of taking on.
- Create a Sunday night routine
Creating routines that you stick to can help to prepare your brain for what’s to come next and make the transition into Monday morning feel a little easier. Prioritising self care and eating your favourite meals, watching a TV show, or reading a good book can all help to make the evening more enjoyable and take our minds off what we’re dreading tomorrow.
- Ignore the emails
If you’re someone who struggles to switch off and you find yourself answering work emails or catching up on some odd jobs on your weekend off, this is your sign to stop. By continuing to work intermittently over the weekend you’re depriving your brain of fully switching off and recovering. Without this, you won’t feel well rested, and your batteries won’t have a chance to fully recharge. This can make the following week seem even more daunting if you’re going into it feeling drained, rather than refreshed and renewed.
- Get a good night’s sleep
This one probably sounds obvious, but a poor night’s sleep can make all the difference for the week ahead. Starting off on the right foot with a good night’s rest, allowing your brain to relax and repair itself, will mean you have maximum capacity to work at your best. Practice your nighttime rituals and pamper yourself before your head hits the pillow so that when you do, your body knows it’s time for sleep and can properly relax into a good night’s rest. Waking up tired and grouchy is only going to dampen your mood further and cause you to feel stressed and grumpy as the week stretches on.
- Reflect on the previous week
Reflect on the previous week and give yourself a pat on the back for making it through successfully. Recognise your accomplishments and achievements, and areas where the going got a little tough but you pulled through. Acknowledging your hard work and what you’ve achieved can give you a much-needed confidence boost going into the next week.
Do the Sunday Scaries mean I need to quit my job?
It’s really normal to feel anxiety or dread leading up to the work week and it doesn’t mean you hate your job, or you should think about changing it. Try out these 7 tricks to make Monday feel less of a climb and see if your Sunday Scaries disappear. If they don’t and you still spend your Sunday dreading what’s to come tomorrow, it might be time to reflect on your job. Identifying what is truly causing you to feel this way is the number one way to get on top of it altogether. If you categorically hate your job, you aren’t feeling valued, or you feel like you’re stagnant then perhaps a change might be a good idea. Staying at a company where you don’t enjoy it can have some pretty detrimental effects on your mental and physical wellbeing, so take the time to think about what you do and if it’s truly serving you.
The moral of this story is, Sundays DON’T have to suck this much and by incorporating a few of these ideas into your Sunday routine you might you actually start to enjoy them! Taking the pressure off Monday and making sure you’re as ready as possible will help to alleviate some of the stress you’re feeling as the new week creeps closer. Or why not download the Morale app? Send and receive affirmations every day from people in your network to remind each other that you OWN Mondays! Receiving a few words of support to boost your mood can out the skip back in your step on the way to work again.
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