In a perfect world, a typical Sunday would be relaxing and refreshing — a true leisure day. But for many of us, the end of the weekend brings a sense of dread, often referred to as the Sunday Scaries.
The terrible snowball effect of Sunday Scaries may feel familiar: Nagging thoughts about work may creep in as soon as you wake up or even sneak up slowly, perhaps during a lovely brunch with friends. If left unchecked, you might head into Monday with high anxiety that can leave you feeling exhausted and depleted right out of the gate, sapping you of motivation to conquer the week ahead.
If you’ve ever had a case of the Sunday Scaries, it’s important to know you’re not alone. Over 76 percent of people battle with “really bad” Sunday night blues. But you don’t have to keep settling for that pit-in-your-stomach feeling forever.
Try these four adjustments to say goodbye to the Sunday Scaries and transform your attitude for the week ahead.
1. Don’t let life pile-up
It’s tempting to put off personal matters — like meal prep, errands, and mail — on work days. Deferring and batching similar tasks is a smart way to be productive, but overestimating what you can accomplish on a single Sunday can leave you feeling frustrated and overwhelmed, which is not conducive to peacefulness.
Removing the pressure to get your life together within one hectic, 24-hour window helps you feel accomplished, unrushed, and level-headed so you can start your week off on the right foot. Start early and spread things out: Before leaving your desk on Friday afternoon, check off a few tasks you’d normally put off until Monday, like zeroing your inbox or paying bills. Make tying up loose ends on Sunday more manageable by tackling household chores at a steady pace throughout the week.
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2. Make Sundays special or sacred
Sunday is half of the weekend, so make the most of it. You don’t have to plan an adventure that will leave you exhausted on Monday, but don’t write it off as a chore-filled day of monotony or simply slate it for hangover recovery.
Fill your day with activities you find genuinely restorative, whether that’s settling down with a new book, going for a hike, or enjoying dinner with a friends. Your brain will begin to re-associate Sundays with excitement and fun, not dread.
3. Whenever possible, ease into the week ahead
Sometimes you can’t avoid having a meeting or deadline first thing on Mondays. But if you do have some control over your schedule, try easing into the workweek. Knowing you’ll be start Monday off with a powerful morning routine or with work you enjoy can help quiet anxiety the night before.
4. If the Sunday Scaries persist, listen to your gut
Persistent, intense dread for several weeks or more should be taken seriously because it may signal depression, burnout, or another underlying condition. If you experience work-related insomnia or feel physically sick at the thought of walking into the office on Monday, speak with a doctor and find support.
Listen to your gut. Don’t ignore signs that suggest a toxic workplace is taking a toll on your health. Moving on from a job that’s not the right fit is a tough decision to make, but ultimately it will lead to positive change.
For most people, though, taking Sunday back won’t require any enormous lifestyle or mindset changes — just a few habit tweaks here and there. Reclaiming your weekend, and more enjoyment of your life as a result, is well worth the effort.
Melody Wilding is a coach and licensed social worker who helps ambitious high-achievers manage the emotional aspects of having a successful career. She also teaches Human Behavior at Hunter College in NYC. A popular speaker, Melody has delivered talks for TedX and others.