Even if you love your job, after some time off from it, getting to Sunday or the day right before you have to work again, can cause some anxiety and dread. Not all the time, and not for everyone, but it can happen. In fact, it’s so common that the feeling has been given a name: the ‘Sunday Scaries’.
“As you think about going back to work on Monday for the next five days, you may feel a rush of stress hormones triggered by work-related stress,” says counsellor and meditation teacher Kimberley Lee. “Ruminating thoughts and worries can fill our minds as we try to problem solve things that haven’t happened yet.”
Perhaps you know how much you need to achieve this week, Lee continues, or there’s a meeting you’re dreading, or general feelings of anxiety for not knowing what the week will bring, Or perhaps you haven’t had enough rest or enough fun and the weekend is almost done? And so, you worry about not having made the most of your time.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to alleviate the anxiety. Ahead, Lee shares six ways you can fight off the Sunday Scaries, leaving you free to better enjoy your weekend or time off.
Identify What You’re Feeling
“Once you notice how and what you’re feeling, take a pause to slow your breathing and see if you can identify why you’re feeling this way. Then you can figure out ways to minimise or dissolve the Sunday Scaries and rebalance your nervous system so you can get a good night’s sleep and start the work week feeling well.”
“Self-compassion is about allowing yourself to be human. To make mistakes. To feel your feelings. And not be critical or judgemental about these. It allows us to cultivate a healthy sense of self that is also forgiving and loving.”
Avoid Overbooking Yourself During the Week
“When you get to the weekend, it’s good to have the energy to enjoy the weekend doing whatever you would like to do with it. When you overbook yourself during the week you may feel compelled to push yourself even harder to ‘enjoy’ the weekend and binge to excess, or you may not have the energy to fully enjoy your time.”
Don’t Make Too Many Plans for Sunday
“When you get to Sunday morning, take a mindful moment to ask yourself what you really need that day and night to take care of you. I’ve created ‘Solitude Sundays’ where I don’t commit to anything ahead of time, but decide on the day what I feel like doing. It takes the pressure off that comes with being ‘scheduled’ (also a work-related feeling) and allows for whatever I need to feel well and good about the weekend, and also for the week ahead.
“I could choose for an exciting adventure-filled Sunday. Or I can choose to cocoon and relax. I’m not anticipating how I’ll feel on Sunday, rather, tuning into myself in the present moment. This is a wonderful self-care and self-love practice.”
“Meditation helps bring focus to the present moment, rather than ruminating in anticipation about past or future worries. When we come back to self in the here-and-now we can see and feel what’s happening for us and what we actually need. Is it a day of drinking or a day or rest? A day of adventure, or a day of slow solitude?
“Meditation can also help us let the Sunday Scary thoughts come and go and allow the feelings of anxiety and dread pass in a mindful and intentional way. It also helps us remain mindful of our stress levels through the week, which means we’re able to manage stress more effectively and likely reduce stress overall.”
Consider Talking to a Therapist
“If you’re not sure where your Sunday Scaries are coming from, working with a therapist can help explore the feelings you have on Sundays about yourself, work, and other existential topics. You’ll gain insight into what’s happening for you so you can design a life for yourself that doesn’t feature the Sunday Scaries.”