How to overcome the anxiety that hits Sunday night
Did you know Sunday is the most depressing day of the week? Yep, it's true.
In a survey conducted by online therapy provider BetterHelp, respondents reported feeling significantly more down or depressed on Sundays than any other day of the week. And according to a survey conducted by Monster.com, up to 76% of Americans self-reported having “really bad” Sunday night anxiety, compared to just 47% of people around the world.
The term "Sunday Scaries" was coined to describe this phenomenon because people often feel sad and isolated in anticipation of Monday morning when they have to go back to work after a relaxing weekend.
What causes these feelings?
It could be due to re-entry stress from going from being off work for two days straight, or it could also be caused by boredom and not having anything else going on in your life. There's specific anxiety that many people experience on Sundays. It isn't the same anxiety you feel when your boss tells you there is more work to do, or when your alarm clock goes off and it's time to go back to reality.
The Sunday Scaries are different; they're an anxiety and dread in anticipation of Monday - but also because this day marks the end of a generally enjoyable weekend. For some, these feelings can be crippling and lead to procrastination or even depression. However, there are ways for you to avoid these negative feelings.
Here are some tips on how you can combat your Sunday Scaries:
Switch to Mocktails
There is a certain ceremony to cracking open a cold one or sipping your favorite wine to close out a hard work week... but you'll pay for it in spades come Sunday.
No one likely wants hear this, but alcohol is a central nervous depressant that interferes with your sleep cycle, which means your not likely to get the restful sleep you need to recharge your batteries over the weekend if that weekend is laced with alcohol consumption. Any impairments in quality of sleep can impact mood and ability to function the next day. Studies have also shown that disrupted sleep seriously increases anxiety, just as dehydration can.
No one is telling you to forgo happy hour or brunch because socializing not only staves-off feelings of loneliness, but also it helps sharpen memory and cognitive skills, increases your sense of happiness and well-being, and may even help you live longer. The key to optimizing your weekend is to both socialize and avoid alcohol, and there's never been a better time to embrace an alcohol free lifestyle. I've found that bartenders are happy to get creative with off-the menu mocktail creations and if you're in a pinch, order a soda water with a couple of dashes of bitters.
Give your body what it wants
Unfortunately, anxiety and dread often lead to poor eating habits (usually the result of comfort bingeing). Make sure you eat healthy meals that will give your body fuel for the week ahead.
Exercise can counteract a huge part of the anxiety and dread you feel on Sunday because it can stem from a lack of physical activity. So try going for a run, take a class, or play with your dogs. It'll help offset stress by releasing endorphins that make us happy.
Make time for yourself Sunday night
Aim to spend an hour doing things you enjoy before bedtime every Sunday night - this might include watching your favorite TV show, reading a book, meditating, or have a standing video chat date with a friend. This small habit can serve as an escape from anxiety and stress, ultimately helping you sleep better the night before Monday's onslaught.
Prepare for Monday
Try preparing a bag of essentials on Sunday evening that will help ease the anxiety and dread caused by thinking about work. This might include things like coffee or tea, healthy snacks, or music that will help you get energized for the week ahead. This bag can be taken to work, or put in your office, on Monday morning so your anxiety is lessened as soon as you sit at your desk.
Turn off your screens and go to sleep, or at least wear blue light glasses
Put your racing mind at ease by keeping a journal by your bedside. If you're prone to having difficulty falling asleep before a big workday because you're afraid you're going to forget something that you need to do, have a notebook nearby to write it down. Then you won't have that nagging worry in the back of your head that I am going to forget something that’s important.
It is a very simple thing, but it can help manage anxiety about the next workday and the week ahead.
Find your people in the office
Monday is a lot easier when you've got people around who can support and motivate you. Having that extra support in the office will go a long way towards keeping anxiety at bay.
In fact, studies have shown that having social ties is one of the best predictors for happiness on any given day. Having a friend or two that you can really open up with about your worries is a game-changer.
How to move forward after a tough Sunday
If you've had a particularly anxiety-ridden Sunday, it's okay to take some time for yourself and cuddle up with your favorite TV show or book.
You can also try taking deep breaths, grounding (aka getting barefoot in nature), chanting, and tapping to calm down. If anxiety is preventing you from getting things done at work on Monday, start off by tackling the easiest tasks first. Take frequent breaks and write down at least 3 things you're grateful for about your job.
If you can't shake the Sunday Scaries it's likely time to find a new job.
You shouldn't dread starting a new week.
You deserve to love what you do 8-10hrs a day.