We're Done With The Sunday Scaries — Here's How To Let Go Of Pre-Workweek Anxiety

Imagine this: It's Sunday afternoon, and you are struck with angst. The afternoon sun is waning, and as you consider what to make for dinner, you soon remember you have a big week ahead — a schedule packed with work meetings, plans with friends across town, and personal goals to meet. This feeling might cause your thoughts to race, make you grit your teeth, get your heart pounding, or simply loom in the back of your mind, and it makes you uneasy. While these could all be considered anxiety symptoms, they also denote a cultural phenomenon called "the Sunday scaries."

A rather cutesy euphemism for the dread we feel before beginning the work week on Mondays, the Sunday scaries have long been blamed for our weekend woes, even when there was not a name for them yet. According to one 2020 study reported by SWNS, 88% of respondents felt the Sunday scaries, which set in at an average time of 3:58 pm. Even though these weekly feelings are common, they are still distressing to deal with, and letting go of the pre-workweek anxiety can be a challenge. Ensuring that your week-to-week schedule is sustainable for you and receiving adequate sleep are two of the best ways to fight these freaky feels. But there are also other ways to set yourself up for a worry-free Sunday. Here are a few ideas to consider. 

Actually enjoy your Sunday plans

Now, hear us out. It can be tempting to succumb to the Sunday scaries, and to curl up in a ball on the couch and not move a muscle. If this is what you really feel you need, by all means, do your thing. But will it keep the Sunday scaries at bay? Probably not. You might even feel more anxious when nothing else occupies your thoughts except for what lies ahead for the week. 

For this reason, we recommend taking full advantage of your Sunday. Make plans with friends or your partner, catch up on chores around the house, run errands in a cute outfit, or go somewhere new on a solo date. Try making plans for your Sunday ahead of time so that you have something to look forward to (rather than an empty space for your dread to enter). And, as best as you can, try not to think about work at all. Don't even think about opening up your work email. Maintaining a sustainable work-life balance does mean that you have a personal life, even when work feels ever-so demanding. And especially when you work from home, ensuring that you leave the house occasionally could be essential to your well-being. 

Write out the week ahead

Odds are, you have heard this advice before. But we're reiterating it here because there is merit to planning and writing out your week ahead. When you begin to feel overwhelmed by the impending days, the last thing you may want to do is come face-to-face with your calendar. However, while it might sound counterintuitive, reviewing what's to come might mentally and emotionally prepare you for tasks. 

Consider also investing in a physical planner, rather than simply using the calendar on your phone (or as a supplement to the calendar on your phone). On Sundays, do what you can to avoid slipping into work mode before you need to. Your phone can be a source of stress — between notifications, emails, social media, and more. Separating your calendar can allow you to focus, make the experience of reviewing it less fraught, and reduce the likelihood that you will check your work inbox. After all, those emails can wait until Monday.

Fall back on relaxation techniques

The physical manifestations of the Sunday scaries can be particularly frustrating to deal with. When all you want to do is relax, your body might simply refuse. This is where relaxation methods can be useful. Consider learning a few breathing exercises to calm your nervous system. One simple breathing technique is to inhale deeply through your nose for five seconds, then exhale out of your mouth for five seconds. Repeat this three times and as many times as you need to throughout the day. Not only will you calm your body down, but you will also divert your thoughts from focusing on your stress to focusing on your breath, at least for a few moments. Plus, breathing techniques can be used anywhere, from the grocery store to the local park. 

Of course, there are other ways to relax. Stretching can be relaxing for some, as can taking a hot shower or bath. Others might even enjoy a hard workout to release that pent-up anxiousness, and in turn, fatigue the body. No matter what works for you, make sure you have a stress management technique or two to practice each week. 

Make Mondays a special day

When all you have planned for the week ahead is work, work, and more work, it's no wonder you're not super stoked for the weekend to be over. While you should ensure that you make some time for yourself every day — whether it's to read a book, engage in some self-care, work on a personal project, or anything else — Mondays in particular can be a struggle. This is why we recommend making Monday a special day. 

Perhaps on Mondays, you plan to visit your favorite coffee shop in the morning or prepare a new recipe for dinner you've been waiting to test out. Perhaps you make plans to see your best friends after work or pick up a fresh bouquet of flowers from your local market. No matter what it is, find something small to do on Mondays that makes you feel excited to get your day started. This can both ease you into the work week and give you something positive to look forward to as you consider the week ahead on Sunday night. 

Address what is making you anxious

While you might not always get to the root of your anxieties, perhaps a specific project at work is where your mind starts to wander on Sundays. Resolving to make this specific project a priority during the week ahead can assist you in managing your Sunday scaries, as much as you may want to run away from them. It's simply human nature to sometimes procrastinate on tasks we don't want to do, tasks that we feel afraid to do, or tasks we feel unprepared to take on — the prospect of failure is not fun. But do not fill your mind with negative thoughts because you feel this way! 

Instead, assure yourself that you are capable of the task at hand, and plan out ways to manage the workload that this specific project might require. Maybe you need to devote more time during the week to getting a specific project done. Or perhaps you simply need to ask for help. Do not be afraid to do what you need to do to ensure that you are meeting your work responsibilities, while also meeting your responsibilities to care for yourself.