It happens like clockwork. As the sun slowly sets on Sunday evening and the weekend comes to a close, a feeling of melancholy, trepidation, and dread about the work week looms ahead. Yes, it’s the Sunday Scaries.
What are the Sunday Scaries?
Enough of us experience the Sunday Scaries that their existence has become a universal truth in our culture. You could almost argue that it’s become a simple acceptance that comes with adulthood, just like bills, taxes, and the need for morning coffee. And the thing is, no matter how much we love our jobs or getting back to work, we’re never totally immune to the churning feeling of the weekend ending.
Heather Silvestri, Ph.D., a New York-based psychologist says, “The Sunday Scaries is really just a form of anticipatory stress.” She also inserts, “The phenomenon of Sunday Scaries boils down to a preemptive fight-or-flight experience that signals our adrenal glands to flood our body with the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. When our psyche picks up on these signals, we begin to ruminate on all the reasons why this dread is gripping us. Now, a self-sustaining cycle has commenced in which we feel physiological stress, use our mind to provide the reasons for said dread, then feel more stress and off we go headlong into the Sunday Scaries.”
It also doesn’t help that our culture has programmed us to view weekends as nonstop play and weekdays to be scheduled to the brim with obligations that extend far beyond work. We have errands to run, work events to attend, and workouts to log—all while trying to get the 8 hours of recommended sleep to handle said obligations.
On the flip side, says Silvestri, “We see ourselves potentially overcompensating on the weekends by drinking too much, playing too hard, accomplishing and thus savoring too little. The deck then is stacked against us when Sunday evening rolls up and we are having a serotonin crash and now realize the party is literally over. Contemplating a workweek of renewed deprivation and compensation is enough to send anyone into a very unpleasant state of dread.” And even if the most you did all weekend was binge-watch Netflix and stay in pajamas, the thought of having to jump back into the week can be a tough pill to swallow.
So, with that, we’re putting an end to the downward spiral of dread. We’re taking back our Sundays, and dare we say, making them fun again?! Try some of these steps with us to stop the Sunday Scaries in their tracks and start the week off like a boss.
Eliminating Sunday Scaries can actually start on Friday. Before you shut down and mentally check out for the weekend, try to spend a few hours on Friday making your “To do” list for the next week and jot a few notes down about what will be on your schedule.
This can help make for a calmer start of the week and make Mondays feel less Mondayish. Knocking out a few small chores around the house on Friday can also ensure that you can leave your Sunday open for relaxing, replenishing, and enjoying the day- who doesn’t want that?!
Throw in a load of laundry, grab a few groceries, and save yourself some time on the backend of the weekend.
An Attitude of Gratitude
Science has shown that practicing gratitude can improve your mental health, reduce stress, and even boost your self-esteem. If the Sunday Scaries tend to pop in at the same time every weekend, journaling can be a way to ward them off. Keeping a gratitude journal and jotting down five things small things you’re grateful for can help keep your mind from spiraling into sadness.
Not into journaling? Try expressing these gratitude’s out loud. Manifesting these will only improve your mental health, boost your self- esteem, and most importantly reduce stress!
Yoga & Breathing
We’re not talking about running a marathon—although feel free to hop on that train—just a bit of time over the weekend to practice yoga, stretching, and breathing. Yoga is proven to help relieve feelings of anxiety, tension, and get your blood moving.
It also helps you to stay in the present, which is a natural antidote to getting caught up in worries about the upcoming week. If the thought of practicing yoga in a class with others doesn’t appeal to you, there are many great yoga apps you can download, so you can practice right in the comfort of your own home.
Before the weekend begins, take a moment to schedule something fun for your Sunday. If you like to be out and about, plan a hike, schedule a Sunday night dinner with friends, go out to brunch, or try finding a local farmers market in your neighborhood. Staying active and getting some much-needed fresh air will help keep your mind off of the fact that the weekend is coming to an end.
If you prefer Sunday to be a day of rest and relaxation, plan some time for self-care. Schedule a massage, set up a spa day at home, or take a book with you to the pool. It doesn’t have to be elaborate—more just something that you can enjoy or look forward to.
Don’t let Sunday Scaries stop you from enjoying your weekend. While we are all guilty of falling into the trap of dreading the week and seeing it as series of chores, lessening that sense of trepidation might just come down to making a few small changes and adjusting the way we approach the week to give you back your Sunday!