Let’s be honest, we’ve all experienced some degree of uneasiness the evening before another workweek begins and the responsibilities of Monday (or any day of the week, depending on your work schedule) begin to loom. It’s that feeling the night before you return to work after a few days off and your brain begins to spiral over the tasks that await you in the morning.
Dubbed the “Sunday scaries”, these feelings of stress and worry that pop up can ruin an entire day and wreak havoc on our well deserved remaining free time. Luckily, there’s strategies you can implement to help you reclaim your final evening of leisure until the next one.
Keep reading to learn expert-backed tips on how to fully unplug during time off and start your workweek on a happier note.
What are the Sunday scaries?
Despite its nickname, these feelings aren’t specific to just Sunday, they can afflict you any night before heading back to the grind after days off. And these sour feelings that pop up are more common than you think. In fact, about 80 percent of Americans have experienced this sense of impending doom the night before work.
A form of anticipatory anxiety, the Sunday scaries are a generalized sense of panic and worry about something that hasn’t happened yet. As the sun goes down on your final day off, you may notice mental and/or physical symptoms build up.
“Several of my clients have reported the Sunday scaries as dread,” says Asha Tarry, life coach and psychotherapist at Behavioral Health Consulting Services LMSW, PLLC. “Dread can show physical signs like having an upset stomach, or the inability to relax, intrusive thoughts, or difficulty enjoying pleasure on their days off.”
Banish your Sunday scaries
As the weekend begins to wind down, there are various things you can do to keep the scaries at bay. Here’s some tips to start:
Adopt a mindfulness practice. Having a daily mindfulness practice can help you acknowledge your emotions. Plus, taking a moment of mindfulness can serve as a reminder that your time off is your personal time to do as you wish, relax, and unplug.
For Fitbit users, check out the mindfulness and meditation features in the Fitbit app.
Get moving. If you feel the scaries coming on, do an exercise that you enjoy or go on a walk outside. It’s no secret that exercise is a mood booster and stress reliever all in one.
Do something that sparks joy. “One thing that many people find helpful is to do something they enjoy on Sunday, which can help serve as a distraction (although be sure it’s a healthy distraction),” says Nancie A. Vito, certified coach, organizational psychology practitioner and public health professional.
Think of something that brings you joy and schedule it in. It can be anything from connecting with a friend or loved one, taking a walk, or treating yourself to a nice dinner. “Overall, remember self-care is essential, and consider getting support from a mental health professional to help with any chronic stress and anxiety,” she says.
Reflect. Reflection is helpful in identifying triggers. “One way to start is by pinpointing what it is that is causing worry, fear, or dread. Then, remember to focus on what you can control with each situation,” says Vito.
Start writing. Getting your thoughts out on paper can be a major anxiety buster. Grab a notebook and start journaling about how you’re feeling.
Make a to-do list. Making a to-do list of your responsibilities for the week can help you feel organized and reduce your anticipation for the next day. Once you do this, leave it until the morning.
Have a good work/life balance. For some, work can easily trickle into their time off so be sure to set healthy boundaries for yourself and work. If necessary, you may want to “ put an “out of office” message in your email each week before you leave work, and be clear about emergencies or expected reply time,” recommends Tarry. “Do the same for your family and friends. Let them know how early or how late to contact you on your days off. The more boundaries you create and communicate with others, the more space you create for peace of mind, and more intention for things that bring joy, and present moment awareness.”
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