What are the Sunday scaries?
The Sunday scaries, also known as the “Sunday blues,” are the sense of anxiety or dread you feel on a Sunday night before returning to work on Monday. You might recognize the Sunday scaries as the pit in your stomach that forms on Sunday evening as the last hours of the weekend tick away and the beginning of the workweek closes in. The Sunday scaries are a form of “anticipatory anxiety” since they cause you to feel anxiety about an event that hasn’t happened yet.
Tips to combat the Sunday scaries
If you’re struggling with the Sunday scaries, we’re here to help. While the dread that fills your Sunday nights can feel overwhelming, there are several actions you can take to reduce—or even eliminate—the fear that takes hold on Sunday evenings.
Remember, you’re not alone in this. The Sunday scaries are related to self-care, but they’re really a work issue. They’re also a valid feeling of anticipatory anxiety that many people, likely including your colleagues and peers, struggle with. By taking steps to identify the cause of your anxiety and prioritize your well-being, you can overcome your Sunday night dread.
1. Determine the cause of your Sunday scaries
Without a clear root cause, the Sunday scaries can feel insurmountable. One moment you’re enjoying your weekend, and the next you’re hit with a feeling of impending doom or unease that you just can’t shake. Instead of writing off this sense of dread as a natural reaction to the end of the weekend, focus on what might be causing the feeling. Ask yourself, is there anything going on at work that you feel unprepared for? Are you happy in your role, or are you feeling stagnant? What’s your work-life balance like?
Determining the specific source of your Sunday-night dread is the first step to overcoming it. Once you have a better idea of what might be causing your feelings, you can brainstorm steps to fix the origin—like prioritizing your most important work to increase your productivity and reduce missed deadlines.
2. Try anxiety-coping techniques
The Sunday scaries are both a work and a well-being challenge. Since the Sunday blues manifest in feelings akin to feelings of anxiety, using anxiety-management and relaxation techniques can help you manage your levels of Sunday-related stress. Try coping strategies like:
- Practicing mindfulness and gratitude
- Using deep breathing exercises
- Keeping a work journal to provide clarity and awareness around complicated work situations
- Taking a long walk or meditating
- Using visualization techniques or reciting positive affirmations
Of course, these are short-term strategies that will help control your feelings of Sunday-night anxiety in the moment. To curb these feelings long-term, you’ll want to focus on actionable changes you can make to your work routine.
3. Create a relaxing Sunday
Since the Sunday scaries lead to increased stress, one of the best ways to combat them is by prioritizing an otherwise stress-free Sunday night. Even though it’s tempting, try not to push all of your weekend responsibilities, like household chores or grocery shopping, to Sunday. Instead, knock out your essential weekend to-dos on Friday evening or Saturday morning to give yourself space to breathe and relax on Sunday.
You can also incorporate a relaxing routine into your Sunday night. Creating a routine will help you wind down, reducing the stress you’d otherwise feel about the upcoming week. Plus, creating a relaxing routine you enjoy gives you something to look forward to on Sunday night, which can reduce your anxiety around the end of the weekend. Try adding stress-management techniques to your routine, like reading a book before bed, taking a warm bath, or meditating.
4. Plan something fun on Monday
Like giving yourself something to look forward to on Sunday evening with a Sunday night routine, planning something fun for Monday can make the start of the week a little less intimidating. It can be something small, like grabbing a cup of coffee before work. Or you can schedule time for something you enjoy, like watching a favorite TV show or cooking a favorite meal. Bonus points if it doubles as something relaxing, like taking a walk or doing yoga. Or, plan an event that will make Monday your favorite day of the week, like a standing happy hour or dinner with a friend. You could also create a productive morning routine to start your Monday fresh and energized.
5. Prioritize your work-life balance
As you may have guessed from our first few tips, prioritizing your work-life balance is key to curbing the Sunday scaries. And while making time for yourself is an important part of developing a successful work-life balance, it will take more than a few bubble baths.
Truly prioritizing your work-life balance means reframing how you think about work and what’s required to succeed. According to the Anatomy of Work Index, 40% of all workers think burnout is an inevitable part of success.
Use strategies to achieve a healthier work-life balance. These could include:
- Setting clear boundaries around when you’re online
- Reducing the amount of work activities you do outside the office
- Learning how to say no if you’re overscheduled
6. Use “do not disturb” and block notifications when you’re off the clock
Technology has connected us—and also made us more distracted. According to the Anatomy of Work, over a third of workers feel overwhelmed by persistent pings. What’s more, workers are facing technology overload: 42% of workers are spending more time on email than one year ago, and 56% feel they need to respond immediately to notifications.
Despite this, only 37% of all workers snooze notifications to limit notifications. Look for tools that offer a “do not disturb” function so you can block app notifications when you’re offline. This sets clear boundaries and gives yourself time away from the hustle and bustle of work on evenings and weekends. After all, your time is your time. When you’re off, you should be fully off(line).
7. Plan out your work week
One root cause of the Sunday scaries is feeling overwhelmed or unprepared for the week ahead. Perhaps you have looming deadlines you’re not sure you’ll be able to meet, or you have an upcoming presentation you don’t feel ready to present. Creating a weekly work plan can help.
A weekly work plan breaks down and organizes your weekly tasks into a manageable overview, so you can see what you need to do and by when. Weekly work plans also allow you to prioritize tasks and set due dates, giving you visibility into your upcoming week. Since weekly work plans help you break down large tasks into smaller to-dos and give you a view of your week at a glance, they’re perfect for balancing your workload. And a balanced workload means less stress during the week—and less anxiety on Sunday.
8. Know when to ask for help
It’s important to recognize the signs that the Sunday scaries are becoming something more serious, like depression or an anxiety disorder. If the above strategies aren’t helping diminish your feelings of Sunday-night dread, or if your work anxiety is significantly impacting your work or personal life, it might be time to take further action. Talk to your manager, mentor, or HR department about workplace benefits that might help. Remember, mental health is health. It’s important to prioritize it—in the workplace and beyond.