Most people have at some point felt anxious or apprehensive on a Sunday night. Maybe it’s about what awaits the following day or the emotional inertia of feeling relaxed and rested. It’s natural and not uncommon. And there’s a way around it.
Sunday Scaries, also known as Sunday Blues, Sunday Syndrome or Sunday Night Syndrome. No matter what you call it, Sunday Scaries is known as the fear, or worry that you feel before starting a new working week. It is not a clinical anxiety diagnosis but defines the experience many face when anxious about something that hasn’t happened yet. The uneasy feeling usually pops up as the upcoming work week approaches. It can be occasional or persistent.
Why you might experience Sunday Scaries
There are so many reasons why someone might dread the start of a new week. Some of these you may not even be aware of. The Scaries might be trying actually to signal you to pay attention. Some possible causes of Sunday Scaries include:
- looming deadlines
- upcoming events that you may feel unprepared for
- dread about interacting with specific people
- the first day of your workweek may be the next day
- you don’t feel well rested after the weekend
- you had a great weekend and don’t want it to end
- you may be uncomfortable or unhappy in your current position (whether you’re fully aware of it or not)
- mental health conditions such as anxiety
Signs of Sunday Scaries
How do you know it’s the Sunday Scaries and not something else? Here are some key signs that indicate it, including:
- racing thoughts about the upcoming week
- irritability as Sunday night approaches
- an overall feeling of uneasiness
- stomach issues
- changes in appetite
- a sense of dread
- loss of motivation
- poor sleep on Sunday night (or the night before your week starts)
- difficulty staying present in the moment (e.g., zoning out during brunch or time with friends)
- catastrophizing future situations (e.g., “I’m not going to make the deadline this week and I’ll be fired”)
How to manage Sunday Scaries
Mondays aren’t going anywhere, but how you deal with them can help reduce any anxiety you’re feeling on Sunday night. Consider these ideas to help you relieve your Sunday Scaries, no matter which day of the week you experience them.
What to do in the moment
Reflect on the potential cause
When you feel them coming on, take a moment to calm your growing anxiety by sitting and confronting why exactly the idea of your workweek makes you feel so uncomfortable. After reflecting on your current situation brainstorm how to navigate the potential stressor. Some suggestions include:
- meal prepping if you worry you won’t have time to cook during the week
- treating yourself with something rewarding after each workday
- engaging in restful activities on Sunday night to start the week feeling refreshed
Use anxiety coping strategies
Use anxiety coping strategies to relieve your Sunday Scaries, including:
- deep breathing exercises
- practicing mindfulness skills
- going on a walk or run
- reciting affirmations
Try to let go of what isn’t within your control
Remind yourself what is and is not in your control. If the cause is in your control, allow yourself to think about it and potentially figure out a solution. But if it’s not, tell yourself, “this is out of my control, and I will let this thought go.”
What to do on a regular basis to prevent them
Develop a healthy work-life balance
If Sunday Scaries are consistent, this may be your mind and body’s way of telling you that you aren’t in the right place. Perhaps you aren’t happy, fulfilled, or content with your current position. Establishing a healthy work-life balance may help you feel better come Sunday night.
If possible, try to set yourself up on Fridays for a lighter workload on Monday. Knowing you have the next day to catch up at your leisure may reduce your Sunday night stress level. Also, try to avoid working on weekends to give yourself enough downtime to relax and rest up for the week ahead.
Create a routine on Sundays
Creating a weekly routine every Sunday can help you establish a sense of certainty when you feel otherwise uncertain about the week ahead, says Robin.
You might consider:
- cooking your favourite dinner
- watching your favourite show
- connecting with loved ones
- writing a to-do list for the upcoming week
Whatever you choose to do, aim to create a self-care routine catered to your needs and interests that feels best to you.
Plan down time during the week
In order to try to manage the Sunday Scaries in the long term, it may be helpful to schedule regular moments of downtime and time for pleasure during your workweek.
You might include:
- stepping away from your office to go for a walk
- scheduling brief breaks at regular intervals during the workday
- getting up and moving your body after each meeting
- scheduling time to see a friend or family member mid-week
- scheduling unscheduled time to do whatever you please