You’ve been enjoying a great weekend. Now, it’s 6 p.m. on Sunday and you’re watching Netflix with your family. Even though you’re still technically in break mode, you find yourself constantly glancing at your phone to check the time.
In the back of your mind, you keep thinking about work the next day. Before you know it, the episode is over, and it’s 7 p.m. Rather than enjoying your night off, you continue to obsess about the upcoming week’s work tasks. Soon, it’s 10 p.m., and you’re feeling anxious and overwhelmed. You’re counting the hours of sleep you’ll get tonight.
Will you get enough sleep to conquer your Monday morning meeting? Eventually, you fall asleep, but not before you’ve wasted half of your day off obsessing about work. And you’re not the only one.
The Sunday Scaries can happen to anyone.
What are the Sunday Scaries?
The Sunday Scaries refer to the anticipation and anxiety employees feel for the workweek ahead. Dr. Jessica Stern a clinical psychologist, further explains, “The angst tends to creep up on a Sunday, often in the afternoon or evening.”
This feeling of dread is extremely common in working professionals, no matter their industry. While some relate the Sunday Scaries to employee burnout, that isn’t always the case. Even people who love their jobs can experience the Sunday Scaries. Instead, their anxiety could be related to whether they can accomplish their tasks that week or if their work will be “good enough.”
The Sunday Scaries do not discriminate. For 76% of professionals, as the weekend’s last hours tick away, intense anxiety starts to surface.
Below are five ways to overcome the Sunday Scaries:
1. Change your mindset about work
Our minds are incredibly influential. Instead of getting stuck in a negative rut, you can change your perspective. For example, rather than worrying about the week’s upcoming workload or meetings, you can list the benefits of your job.
Work is a significant part of our lives, and we deserve to feel good about it. Positive affirmations are a helpful tool to empower and motivate you. If you find yourself struggling with the Sunday Scaries and work-related anxiety, practice the following affirmations:
- I do my best to succeed at work
- I am full of great ideas
- I release all tension from my work
- I am determined to be successful at work
- I prioritize effectively
- I am consistent in my work
- I deliver something of value every day
- I respect myself and my work
- I encourage my team members to achieve their goals
- My coworkers bring out the best in me
- I am grateful for criticism because it pushes me to be a better version of myself
- I use challenges to create new opportunities
- I love my organization, and I enjoy working here
- I am grateful for my job
Read these affirmations aloud before bed every Sunday night. Then, rather than falling asleep with thoughts like “I don’t want to go to work tomorrow,” you will think encouraging words like “I can do this” or “I am excited for what the work week brings.”
2. Live in the present and turn off work notifications
While it can be tempting to check work emails or pings over the weekend, don’t. The saying “out of sight, out of mind” isn’t far off. If we constantly check on work tasks and projects during our off time, we will never actually be “off.”
Dr. Susanne Cooperman, a neuropsychologist and a psychoanalyst, attributes the Sunday Scaries, in part, to the advent of smartphones and our newfound accessibility outside the physical workplace.
She explains, “I think this is happening more recently because people feel they are expected to be available 24/7. People really used to relax and go back to their baseline and regroup over the weekend. And now, very often, they feel they have to check in, causing unnecessary stress.”
The Sunday Scaries cause us to compulsively think about work. To help prevent this, keep your computer off and work notifications silenced. It’s important to live in the present. Ultimately, anxiety comes from living in the past or the future.
Here are some grounding techniques:
- Move your body and take a walk
- Breathe mindfully until you feel relaxed
- Do something you love to do – no matter how simple
- Use your five senses and focus on what is going on around you
3. Create a wind-down Sunday night routine
Working professionals use the weekends to recharge their personal lives, whether hanging out with family, getting lunch with friends, working out, or exploring new local restaurants. But while these activities feed our social lives, they don’t help us overcome the Sunday Scaries. Instead, being constantly connected keeps us amped up and can discourage relaxation.
To give yourself a mental reset, begin winding down social activities on Sunday nights. Rather, create a routine that calms down external noise, as well as any anxious thoughts. Of course, this routine will look different for everyone. For some, it may look like turning off electronics, avoiding alcohol, and journaling, while others may include a glass of wine with their favorite music or reality television show.
Dr. Stern agrees, “If someone can create a routine on Sunday that allows them to recharge, that can be really helpful to prepare for the upcoming week while winding down from the weekend.”
Think about what makes you happy and fuels your self-love and inner peace. Then, incorporate those hobbies into your Sunday night regimen. Your new habits will help scare away the Sunday Scaries and welcome the new workweek with excitement.
4. Prioritize sleep more than any other night
Most people chronically undersleep. While the National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults sleep between seven and nine hours, almost one-third get less than six. This fatigue inevitably bleeds into the workplace, with 38% of employees experiencing fatigue at work. Sleep deprivation impacts our work performance and mindset – which we’ve already determined is important.
Sadly, the Sunday Scaries have a heavy impact on professionals sleeping habits. Work-related anxiety and stress can make sleeping more difficult, and sleep issues can reduce productivity at work.
Andrea Petersen, the author of On Edge – a memoir about her struggles with work-related anxiety – expresses her own experience, “I’m very prone to having difficulty falling asleep before a workweek because I’m afraid I’m going to forget something that I need to do.”
Prioritizing the sleep you get Sunday night sets the tone for your workweek. Getting adequate sleep will support your motivation, efficiency, and overall job performance.
Here are some tips for getting a good night’s sleep:
- Banish electronics – smartphone and laptop – before bed
- Write down your work-related anxieties to release them
- Listen to soothing music and decrease the light in your room
- Try not to think about sleep as you’re trying to fall asleep
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule throughout the week and weekend
Start your Monday on the right foot with a good night’s sleep. Your entire workweek depends on it.
5. Treat yourself every Monday
The Monday Blues are the cause of the Sunday Scaries. But does Monday deserve the poor reputation it gets?
Treat yourself every Monday so it becomes a day to look forward to. It doesn’t matter what the “treat” is. Dr. Stern suggests, “Plan a light little treat as motivation to get started, so maybe that means having your favorite coffee variation, creating a fun playlist that you play on your commute to the office, downloading new podcasts, or going to your favorite workout class with the studio’s best instructor.” All that matters is that it brings you joy. After all, real happiness lies in the simple things.
Monday is only as bad as we make it. Work on changing your mindset from dreading Monday to being excited about it. After all, you work the same hours on Monday as you do on Friday – so why can’t both days be celebrated? Fridays can celebrate the upcoming weekend, while Mondays can embrace your favorite chai tea latte or kickboxing class.
Whether we like it or not, Monday morning will come. So, rather than falling asleep with work-related anxiety on Sunday night, close your eyes, eager for your Monday perk.
Beat the Sunday Scaries with a Sunday Smile
Overcoming the Sunday Scaries won’t happen immediately. Quieting down the voice in your head can feel like a lot. However, your inner voice will ramble less and less if you practice the above five tips. Be mindful and start with small steps, and considerable change will follow.
Soon you’ll find your Sunday Scaries replaced with a Sunday smile.