It’s Sunday evening and you’re trying to focus on some relaxing self-care, but you can’t stop thinking about the obscenely long to-do list you need to tackle first thing in the morning. Sound familiar? You’ve got a case of the Sunday Scaries.
“The ‘Sunday Scaries’ is the anxiety that starts to settle in on a Sunday due to impending responsibilities on Monday, like returning to work or school,” says Sacramento-based psychiatrist Anjani Amladi, M.D. “This feeling can be due to an anticipated hectic work week, a big presentation, a busy calendar, family activities, school events, and more,” Amladi explains. “And although Sunday is a day off, sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. Sunday is the prequel to kicking off our week, and for many people, there is a degree of anticipatory anxiety that comes along with that.”
If you’ve had a pleasurable weekend, Sunday Scaries can also reflect sadness that it’s over, adds North Carolina-based clinical social worker Hayden Dawes, L.C.S.W., L.C.A.S. Or, it can indicate that maybe you had a little too much fun. “If you’ve partied hard on Friday and Saturday evenings, by Sunday evening, you can feel sleep-deprived,” adds London-based therapist Sally Baker. “That can impact your confidence in your ability to cope with what the week ahead might throw at you.”
Just know that the experience isn’t unique to you. In fact, a 2018 study performed by LinkedIn found that 80 percent of American adults (and more than 90 percent of Gen Z and Millennials) experience the Sunday Scaries.
8 Tips For Managing the Sunday Scaries
You’re not doomed to feeling anxious and overwhelmed every single Sunday. Try these expert tips to send those Scaries packing.
1. Prep for Mondays on Fridays
Many of us underestimate how many work-related tasks we unconsciously push to Sunday evenings. Whether it’s polishing off a presentation or getting the week’s meeting schedule in order, work is on your mind.
“Doing these things on a Thursday or Friday lifts the burden of having to use part of your weekend to do things related to work,” says Amladi.
Dawes recommends spending at least 20 minutes before leaving work on Friday to create a list of the daunting activities you have to face in the next week. Then, create an action plan for you to hit the ground running come Monday.
2. Keep A Journal
Writing down your worries can help ease the feeling of overwhelm that comes before a busy week. “Instead of allowing your Sunday night thoughts and fears to dominate your whole evening, devote around 20 minutes to writing out your abstract thoughts and fears,” Baker says. “By writing them down, even as bullet points, your main concerns can look more manageable.”
Handwriting these worries “facilitates a unique mind and body connection that allows for a-ha moments and greater insights,” she adds.
3. Balance Out the Fun
One important tip: Stop living for the weekend. Sure, the workweek can get hectic, but making room for fun and relaxing activities Monday through Thursday—not just Fridays and Saturdays—can help you strike a better balance. Make Tuesday evening board game night or Thursday a standing opportunity to try a new recipe or restaurant. That way Sunday evening doesn’t have to feel like a sad end to your only nugget of R&R.
4. List Out What You Love About Your Job
Many people associate negative feelings with work because they focus solely on the demanding daily tasks, Dawes says. However, these demanding tasks may only account for 15 percent of our work life.
“If we’re not slowing down long enough, we might not be looking at the things we do enjoy about our work,” Dawes says. So, in moments of anxiety, he recommends giving yourself permission to notice and appreciate what you like about your work. When you acknowledge these pleasurable experiences, you create a balance that helps mitigate the stress that comes with a busy work week.
5. Get Present
When you’re having trouble putting work out of your mind and feeling calm in the remaining hours of your weekend, Amladi recommends trying a few grounding exercises that can bring you back into the moment.
Try setting up a diffuser with your favorite scented oils, doing a meditation, going for a walk, reading, or using a coloring book. All of these activities allow you to tap into your senses and be more present, Amladi says.
And, engaging in these practices regularly will help you stay more engaged in the present instead of jumping to the week ahead. “If you’re with your family, be with your family. Suppose you’re out enjoying an activity; enjoy that activity,” Amladi says. “Being present in the moment helps people to stay connected and enjoy the time they have off of work, while reducing stress and improving overall well-being.”
6. Practice “Afformations”
With traditional affirmations, you recite a positive and uplifting statement. With afformations, a tweak created by best-selling author Noah St. John, you flip these statements into empowering questions.
“Original affirmations would have you tell yourself, ‘I feel calm and relaxed about next week,’ and you immediately experience subconscious resistance because you simply don’t believe what you’re saying,” Baker says. However, when you ask yourself, “Why do I find it so easy to feel calm and relaxed about next week?” your subconscious seeks an answer instead of resisting, which can leave you feeling more capable.
So, instead of trying to convince yourself that you’re not stressed about the week ahead, ask yourself why you aren’t anticipating it, instead.
7. Try The Meridian Energy Technique
The Meridian Energy technique is a simple and effective way to help you feel more grounded and connected to your inner ability to overcome a challenging week, says Baker. This technique involves physically tapping on specific points around your face and upper body while focusing on a particular event you want to resolve.
To give it a try, tap the two fingers of your dominant hand on each of the following spots seven to eight times, in order:
- Where your eyebrow meets the top of your nose
- The side of your eye, at the end of your eyebrow
- Your cheekbone, under your eye socket
- Just above your upper lip
- Your chin
- Around your collarbone (change to using a soft fist)
- Your rib and under your arm (two fingers)
- Your wrists (tap the insides together)
- The top of your head
8. Be Kind To Yourself
Don’t forget the most important piece of handling any sort of anxiety: self-compassion.
“Treat yourself with great kindness,” Amladi advises. Start by reminding yourself that you’re not lazy or unmotivated and your negative feelings about your work obligations are normal and valid. “Putting yourself under undue stress makes it more challenging for you to function optimally. You can only do the best you can do, and accept and forgive yourself for everything else,” she adds.