Oh no! It’s Sunday night and my anxiety about returning to work tomorrow is at its all-time high. No matter what I do, the dread of returning to work usually starts on Sunday morning. I try to repeatedly remind myself that it’s still the weekend, but anxiety, my uninvited guest is lurking in the periphery of my life. He’s quite creative about coming up with extraordinary reasons why I should start feeling worried and stressed about going to work the following morning. However, I’m fed up with the Sunday scaries. For once and for all I want to figure out how to stop Sunday night anxiety from ruining my weekends.
What the heck are the Sunday scaries?
Let’s first get a grip on what Sunday anxiety is before we dive full force into our battle of figuring out how to stop Sunday night anxiety from destroying our weekends.
The Sunday Scaries, also known as Sunday anxiety or the Sunday Blues, is a common phenomenon where people experience stress and worry in anticipation of the upcoming week.
Sunday anxiety can manifest in a variety of ways, from physical symptoms such as headaches and stomachaches to emotional symptoms such as depression and anxiety.
For me, the physical symptoms usually start with neck and shoulder pain. Sometimes I even get a horrible stomachache and have to spend a big part of the day just lying down.
Why do we experience the Sunday Blues?
The root of the Sunday Scaries is often traced back to the feeling of the weekend coming to a close. I know that I’m thrilled on Fridays since it’s time to unwind and relax after a long week of work and teaching.
Saturdays are the only time that my husband and I have to spend quality time together. We try to go hiking or on a mini-day trip to explore the Central Coast.
However, as Sunday evening approaches, the reality of having to return to the daily grind sets in.
My Sunday anxiety begins when I start to stress and worry about the upcoming week and can’t shake off the fear.
Psychology 101-All about Sunday night anxiety
The psychology behind the Sunday Scaries is complex and multifaceted.
For some of you, it may be a fear of not having accomplished enough over the weekend and feeling unprepared for the week ahead (I fall into this category).
For others, it may be related to work or school-related stress and the pressure to perform. I felt this way when I was in graduate school. Ugh, that was tough.
And for still others, it may be a general feeling of dread or unhappiness about the monotony of the daily routine.
How to stop Sunday night anxiety once and for all
Whatever the cause, it’s important to acknowledge that the Sunday Scaries are a real and valid experience.
It’s not just in your head or your stomach.
Sunday night anxiety is common and a 2018 survey conducted by LinkedIn discovered that 80% of the participants experienced Sunday night anxiety.
When I read that statistic I felt so much better! We are NOT alone. There are so many others who also feel the doom and gloom on Sunday night!
And while this anxiety may be a normal part of life, it can still take a toll on our mental and emotional well-being.
So, how can you beat the Sunday Scaries?
Although this list is not a magical pill that’s going to cure your anxiety, it’s definitely a step in the right direction in helping you feel better and more empowered to take control.
5 ways to beat Sunday night anxiety
After a lot of trial and error, these are the tips that I’ve integrated into my life that have helped me get rid of Sunday night anxiety.
I hope you try them and figure out some rituals and routines that work best for you.
1. Take charge and get organized
One of the biggest causes of Sunday anxiety is the feeling of being overwhelmed and unprepared for the week ahead.
To combat this, take some time on Sunday to plan out your schedule for the week and make a to-do list. This will help you feel more in control and give you a sense of accomplishment.
In addition, I’m a big believer in the value of meal planning and prepping since it helps me eat more nutritiously.
Spending that hour or so getting organized, scheduling, and prepping my meals helps me feel calmer, more relaxed, and even excited about the week ahead!
2. Practice self-care
The Sunday Scaries can take a toll on our mental and emotional well-being, so it’s important to prioritize self-care on Sunday.
I usually schedule a one-hour massage on Sunday mornings. There’s this amazing Chinese acupressure massage place near my house that only charges $20 for a 1-hour massage. That $20 is worth every dime.
If you like massage (like me), do some research online to find affordable massage places near you. The best places to check out are usually rated on Yelp and offer special deals for early morning or late night massages.
Take control. Feel better.
Start your Self-care Journey.
In addition to getting a massage, I take a restorative yoga class at night. This helps me unwind and activates my parasympathetic nervous system so I can rest, digest and get a peaceful night’s sleep.
Whatever you do, engaging in something that brings you joy and relaxation can help counteract the stress and worry of the upcoming week.
3. Set realistic expectations
Sometimes, the Sunday Scaries can stem from unrealistic expectations we have for ourselves.
I’m a Type-A perfectionist that has a long to-do list and feels overwhelmed when I can’t get it all done. Ever since I decided to learn how to stop Sunday night anxiety, I’ve become more mindful and realistic.
So take it from me, be intentional about what you can realistically accomplish in a week, and set achievable goals for yourself.
In doing so, you’ll feel a lot less pressure and less stress.
4. Reflect on the past week
On Sunday I take a few minutes to engage in my gratitude practice. So instead of focusing on the week ahead, I take some time on Sunday to reflect on the week that just passed.
Focusing on the positive and what went well is far better for our mental health than worrying about a non-existent future.
In addition, this activity can help you put things in perspective and remind you that you’ve made it through tough weeks before and can do it again.
5. Create a Sunday ritual
To help ease the transition from the weekend to the week, create a Sunday ritual that you look forward to.
I described mine earlier but to recap I like to schedule a massage, schedule my self-care/yoga/date on my planner, prep my meals, and lastly, go to a restorative yoga class.
What is a Sunday ritual that you can engage in that would help you beat the Sunday blues?
This can be something as simple as making a special breakfast or going for a mindful walk in nature.
Having something to look forward to on Sunday can help to mitigate the stress and worry of the upcoming week.
A few other tricks for beating the Sunday blues include:
- Try doing a 10-minute mindfulness meditation before going to bed
- Plan something fun to do on Sundays and distract yourself with something you love doing
- Unplug from your phone (including work emails) for the weekend.
- Journal and answer the following question to identify what’s at the root of your anxiety – is there something you’re avoiding? While some level of anxiety may be understandable, if you’re suffering every week, it could also point to a deeper issue
- If the Sunday Scaries are interfering with your daily life, or if you’re struggling with a more severe mental health condition, seek professional help from a therapist who can help you to identify the underlying causes of your stress and worry and develop coping strategies to manage them.
Remember, the Sunday Scaries are a common challenge that many people experience… 80% of those who were surveyed on LinkedIn shared that they have Sunday night anxiety about returning to work or school!!
While they may be a normal part of life, anxiety, and stress can still take a toll on our mental and emotional well-being.
By getting organized, practicing self-care, setting realistic expectations, reflecting on the past week, and creating a Sunday ritual, we now have the tools and know-how to stop Sunday night anxiety once and for all!
Do you struggle with Sunday night anxiety or the Sunday scaries? What has helped you conquer this anxiety and feel better about the week ahead? Please share your stories and comments below.