Around 4 p.m. every Sunday, I used to get a familiar sinking feeling: “Am I getting sick?” I would ask myself. Every seven days, it rolled around like clockwork. When I was a kid, we called this weekly melancholy the “back-to-school blues.” As adults, we call it the Sunday scaries, or back-to work-blues. Maybe the pre-Monday jitters.
Whatever you call it, these feelings of anxiety can suck the life out of you. When you're in the thick of it, the sense of unease can feel unshakeable and can completely ruin your Sunday—which should be the most relaxing day of the week. Fortunately, it is possible to overcome your Sunday evening stress and set yourself up for a positive and productive week. Follow these five tips next time you feel yourself starting to freak out.
1. Know you are not alone.
Even people who really love their jobs don’t always look forward to Mondays. There is nothing original about feeling low on a Sunday evening. Knowing that there are plenty of other people out there feeling the same way can help foster some perspective and provide comfort.
2. Prep for the week.
While a Sunday slump makes us want to do nothing but watch Netflix and order in pad Thai, doing a few positive things for yourself will inevitably lift your mood. I like to prep my bag for the work week, stock up at the grocery store, and find a new podcast for my Monday morning commute (something upbeat!).
I also like to enjoy a glass of wine (two max!) and plan out my calendar for the week ahead. And don't make it all about work, work, work, work, work. The solution?
3. Plan a few fun things.
Punctuate your week with fun stuff to look forward to! Five days full of work and no play makes can make the most optimistic person a tad despondent. Text some friends to set up Tuesday night sushi. Plan a yoga date with your S.O. on Wednesday. Maybe hit up a comedy club or concert on Thursday.
I have a theory that “Monday is the new Thursday” and often make plans for Monday evenings—it's a lot easier to snag a reservation at a new hot spot, and restaurants often have specials on less busy days. With something fun looming within 24 hours, Sundays scaries lose their power.
4. Connect IRL.
Spending time with friends is a proven way to lower the stress hormone cortisol, Social support and oxytocin interact to suppress cortisol and subjective responses to psychosocial stress. Heinrichs M, Baumgartner T, Kirschbaum C. Biological psychiatry, 2004, Jan.;54(12):0006-3223. and a quiet Sunday evening is a great chance to squeeze in some quality time. Plus starting the week refreshed makes a big difference when it comes to your energy on Monday and the ability to tackle whatever is thrown your way during the week.
Instead of binging on Sunday night TV solo, put on a chill playlist and cook a healthy dinner at home for you and a friend. (Bonus points if you have leftovers for the week ahead.) Finally, schedule that Skype call with a loved one who lives far away. Or watch an endorphin-boosting funny movie.
5. Ask yourself: Does something need to change?
If your bout of Sunday scaries worsens over time, the issue may be a little deeper. Do you need to look for a new job or start a side hustle that uses your talents and strengths? Your feelings are the best indicator of your needs and you should listen to them—they might be telling you something important.
Your feelings are the best indicator of your needs.
My Sunday scaries were almost eradicated altogether when I started my side hustle as a life coach and writer. I was too busy helping people feel more confident in their lives and writing advice articles to experience the same heaviness that Sundays used to deliver. It was replaced with enthusiasm, a lightness, and a totally different energy. Could something better be waiting for you?
Remember: Sunday and Monday are simply days of the week just like Friday and Saturday. Be present and enjoy your life regardless of what day of the week it is. In the moment, there's nothing to fear—and Friday night is always just around the corner.
Join us on Facebook on Sunday, June 26 for a live chat with Susie about why we get so stressed on Sundays, how to prep for the week ahead, and more advice on having the best week ever!
Susie Moore is Greatist’s life coach columnist and a confidence coach in New York City. Sign up for free weekly wellness tips on her website and check back every Tuesday for her latest No Regrets column!