We’ve all been there — it’s Sunday night, and your sense of relaxation from the weekend slowly turns to dread as you realize the workweek is just hours away. For some people, it’s the mere thought of going to a job they hate that sets off the “Sunday Scaries,” whereas, for others, it’s the anxiety brought on by the seemingly endless to-do list they’ll have to tackle the next day.
If you seriously dread Mondays, you’re not alone. A recent LinkedIn survey found that 66% of professionals say they experience the “Sunday Scaries” — and 41% say the pandemic has caused them or made them worse than ever — but fortunately, there are things you can do to ease your Sunday night anxiety. To find out the best ways to do just that, I spoke to mental health experts, who are sharing their best tips to end your weekend on a much better note.
Last updated: Oct. 25, 2021
Decipher Fact From Fiction
Take a moment to really think about what’s causing your Sunday night anxiety, said Jonathan Alpert, a psychotherapist, performance coach and author of “Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days.”
“What makes you anxious about returning to work? Is it based on reality or on something you imagine?” he said. “For example, did your manager actually say you need to work at home over the weekend, or are you assuming he or she expects you to? Focus on what’s within your control, not on what’s beyond it — and certainly not on that which might be based merely on fiction.”
Write Out Your Fears
“I recommend individuals sit down and write out what they’re dreading within their week,” said Jennifer Silvershein, a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist at Manhattan Wellness. “Typically, once we write out our fears and concerns, they feel smaller and more manageable.”
The simple act of journaling can help you to manage anxiety, reduce stress and cope with depression, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center.
Prepare For Monday Every Friday
Dedicate some time on Fridays to set yourself up for success for the next work week. This can really help you cope with stress at work.
“At the end of each work week, take five or 10 minutes to prepare for the next week by straightening up your workspace, tying up loose ends and making a to-do list,” said Alpert. “Investing the time will help ease your mind for the next 48 hours.”
Do a Little Prep Work on Sunday Night Too
“Choose your clothes, lunches and anything you need for the week so you aren’t scrambling on Monday morning, which can add to your stress,” said licensed clinical social worker and therapist Julie Fanning, who is the owner of Holding Hope Services.
Relax as Much as You Can
Having a relaxed weekend can help you to feel better going into Monday.
“When planning your weekend, don’t over schedule, and certainly don’t leave stressful activities for Sunday,” said Alpert.
Plan Your Sunday According To Your Mood
Battle your Sunday Scaries before they even begin to set in.
“If you ordinarily feel depressed on Sundays, then arrange a fun activity such as a special restaurant dinner or hanging out with friends,” said Alpert. “If you typically find yourself edgy, then indulge in something relaxing such as a movie or reading.”
Balance Your Sleep Patterns
Get an early start on your Sunday to make sure you get to bed early too.
“If you get up at 6 a.m. during the week but sleep in on the weekends, you may not be tired come bedtime on Sunday,” said Alpert. “Leave Saturday for sleeping in. On Sunday, try not to deviate too far from your regular wake up time.”
Plan a Fun Activity for the Week Ahead
Whether it’s going to a happy hour with friends or a movie night in, plan something you can do during the week that you can be excited about.
“Why wouldn’t someone be depressed if their thought is that starting Monday, their life will be devoid of joy until Friday?” said Fanning. “Planning an activity during the week to look forward can boost anyone’s spirits.”
Briefly Wallow in Your Dread
It’s OK to feel some anxiety on Sunday nights — just don’t let your work-related stress take control over you.
“Give yourself time to acknowledge and feel the dread,” said Fanning. “The only way a feeling dissipates is to feel and express it. Give yourself 10 minutes of dread, and the feeling may drift away.”
Practice Self-Care on Sundays
“I cannot stress having a self-care routine enough,” said Susan Youngsteadt, a family-centered treatment clinician and master of social work. “It can be as simple as washing your face, brushing your teeth, having your outfit ready for the next day and getting into bed at a decent time. It’s all about doing what brings you peace and calm.”
“Taking care of yourself is so important, and doing what makes you feel good before calling it a night can leave you in a better position for Monday morning,” she continued. “Light a candle, take a bath, play relaxing music, listen to your favorite podcast or read a book. Give yourself at least 30 minutes to calm your body before getting in bed.”
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Stop Staring at the Clock
When you go to bed on Sunday night, keep your eyes off the clock.
“Turn your alarm clock away from the bed so that you aren’t reminded of your approaching workday,” said Alpert. “Have confidence that it will wake you at the appropriate time.”
Count Your Blessings
End your weekend with gratitude for the coming week. According to the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, “people who consciously count their blessings tend to be happier and less depressed.”
“Before you go to sleep, identify three positive aspects about your job or day ahead,” said Alpert. “Drift off to sleep looking forward to what you like about your job, rather than dreading what you don’t like.”
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Gabrielle Olya contributed to the reporting for this article.