The 3-step approach to get rid of the Sunday Scaries

Are you finding your weekend is getting cut short?  

One minute you’re making Sunday morning pancakes and enjoying time with loved ones; the next you find yourself making a mental note to email that TPS report first thing Monday morning.  And unfortunately, once that stream of thought begins, you may find yourself barreling down the Sunday Scaries rollercoaster before you even get an option to exit the ride.

And there goes your weekend.

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Sunday is the new pre-Monday

In a 2018 LinkedIn study, researchers found that an astounding 80% of professionals experience the harrowing Sunday Scaries each week.  Over 90% of younger generations (Gen Z and Millenials) reportedly contract the pre-Monday blues, while 70% of the older generations admitted to experiencing these feelings of dread at the end of their weekend.  With an average grade of 80% of the working population, this test indicates that the US is clearly failing to establish a healthy work/life balance.

It’s no wonder that America has started to see a shift in workforce mentality in recent years, most notably the post-pandemic Great Resignation.  And while many companies are responding to this clear discontent amongst workers, we all know that societal change is slow.  It will take years, if not decades, to see a real impact in workforce culture.

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Combat the Sunday Scaries

Whether you have a busy weekend full of sporting events, errands, and birthday parties, or a relaxing one with no scheduled obligations, there’s something magical about those two days of freedom.  And after working hard for five grueling days, this time is crucial for your mental and emotional recovery.

Don’t let those Scaries ruin your last day of weekend reprieve — you’ve earned that time off.  By planning ahead to avoid unnecessary worry and filling your day with activities that bring you joy, those Sunday Scaries won’t stand a chance.

1. Build in time to prep for next week

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To prevent those Sunday night worries and mental checklists, set aside time at the end of each workweek to prepare for the next.  Go through your top priorities and calendar for the upcoming week to find time to complete all the essential tasks.  

Try time-blocking if you struggle with time management during the week to ensure you don’t forget anything.  If there is a certain item on your to-do list that requires tip-top mental function, make a calendar appointment during your most productive time of day (aka your “magic time”) so you can tackle it effectively and efficiently.  

While you’re at it, see if you can pencil in something fun on Monday, like lunch with a co-worker or a quick phone call with a friend during break.  What a great way to break up your otherwise cumbersome work schedule with something you’ll actually look forward to!

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Anything that you dread tackling when starting a new week, plan ahead to alleviate stress before it happens.  Don’t leave it until Sunday afternoon.  This could include anything from meal planning to laundry to searching the kids’ backpacks for truant assignments.  

Do it early, check it off your list, and enjoy the rest of your time off.

2. Set boundaries to actually use the weekend to relax

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Who else here is guilty of using that extra time on the weekend to catch up on work?  (Slowly raises hand)  While those few extra hours may make you feel better about the upcoming workweek, making this practice a habit is detrimental to your mental recovery and overall stress management.  

Learning to effectively decompress from work and enjoy your time off is a skill that must be practiced and takes time to fully master.  If you are constantly putting in that extra time to get stuff done, you are enabling a never-ending cycle of longer work hours and fewer hours for yourself.  There will always be more to do if you do not set clear boundaries for yourself.

Be sure to create both physical and mental boundaries to maximize your time off.  This means not only physically separating yourself from work (i.e. not checking work emails, texts, or taking calls) but also mentally separating yourself.  If you start thinking about a work project, find something fun to distract yourself.  Read a book, take a walk with your dog, play a game with your kids or spouse — do something pleasant to help you forget whatever it was that popped into your head. 

Shouldn’t be too hard since you already prepped for the week using tip #1!

3. Create a Sunday routine that brings you joy 

The easiest way to avoid a negative Sunday is to start associating it with positive feelings.  Schedule activities that make you happy so you actually look forward to Sundays instead of dreading them.

Plan a Sunday Funday with family and friends

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Making plans to spend quality time with family and friends is the best way to end a fantastic weekend.  Be sure to include a fun activity and delicious food to make the get-together a real treat for everyone.  

Not only will the anticipation of the upcoming festivities be something to look forward to all weekend, but the event itself will be a great distraction from any Monday morning worries lurking around the corner.

Incorporate exercise into your day

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As Elle Woods famously reminds us in Legally Blonde, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t [get the Sunday Scaries].”  (I may have edited that a little bit)

As per usual, Elle knows her stuff.  Exercise has indeed been proven to combat depression, reduce stress, and improve sleep quality.  

Isn’t that what the weekend is for?

Create a Sunday night self-care ritual

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Set aside some time before bed to simply pamper yourself and make it your thing every Sunday.  Take a bath and read a book, do some slow stretches while listening to a podcast, or watch your favorite movie.  

Do whatever you want to do without guilt and enjoy every last moment of it.

Transitioning into the week

Is something bigger going on?

While these tips should provide some relief as you transition into your week, if you find that your work woes trickle into Monday, then Tuesday and beyond … Please ask yourself if there is a larger issue you need to address.  

As I’ll discuss further in an upcoming article, we too often try to silence our Intuition and ignore our own ability to navigate our way in life.  If your Intuition continues to tap you on the shoulder and whisper in your ear that something isn’t right, don’t ignore her. Take some time to evaluate the bigger picture and challenge your status quo if it’s no longer working for you.

Enjoy your whole weekend

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Hopefully by incorporating each of these habits you can fight off those Sunday Scaries before they have a chance and start your week feeling refreshed.  

Now get out there and enjoy your weekend!  You never know — Sunday may turn out to be your new favorite day of the week.

What habits and rituals have you adopted to battle the Sunday Scaries?  Share your tips and tricks in the comments!

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