According to a 2018 LinkedIn survey, 80% of us experience Sunday night anxiety, and this increases for Millennials (91%) and Gen Zs (94%). Sunday night anxiety is a form of what’s known as an anticipatory anxiety, worrying about something that is going to happen. For most people, it manifests itself as an underlying dread, a sense of unease, restlessness and irritability, and can affect your ability to sleep the night before in anticipation.
And in the COVID era, the Sunday scaries are even more real, most probably because of the isolation and longer work hours we face, and the fact that our work life bleeds into our personal, so we never feel as though we are off or away.
However, whether you're worrying about the amount you’ve got to get done, balancing your professional and personal to-dos or thinking about the tasks you didn't finish last week, for most people, they find that once they start the week, they can cope just fine.
And I know how you feel. Even though I work for myself nowadays and don’t experience the Sunday dread in quite the same way as I ever did at school or the workplace, I certainly worry at the end of a Sunday about whether I’ve balanced my time efficiently and effectively. There’s so much to fit in in 21st century, from keeping up relationships with friends, to having some down time, and getting all those chores done ready for a new week, it can feel like Sundays especially are a juggling act. The two niggling questions of "Have I been productive enough?” versus “Have I relaxed enough?” can certainly plague my mind.
And with most of us not only having to run our households and look after our children on top of a full working week, it’s no wonder the Sunday scaries are part of our lives.
With that in mind, here are our top tips to help you beat the blues:
1. Focus on what you do enjoy in the workplace.
Surprisingly, more people get the Sunday scaries if they have a good relationship with their boss - perhaps it’s because in a workplace you enjoy you place higher expectations on yourself to do well.
We dread Mondays because we think it will be unmanageable and choose to focus our attention on those thoughts, so one way to combat this is to think about the reasons why you do enjoy going to the office. Perhaps it’s to meet with coworkers and develop the relationships you have with them, or perhaps it’s the satisfaction of finishing off a project you’ve worked so hard on.
2. Practise self compassion.
Another reason why we feel down on Sundays are because it gives us a chance to reflect on what we’ve not achieved throughout the week. We might have a number of errands to run which we just haven’t had time to complete, or we might have frittered away our mornings in bed.
Instead of viewing these times as being unproductive, start putting a positive spin on them. Whether it’s enjoying time with friends, relaxing and recuperating, or catching up on that much needed sleep, acknowledge that you do need some time off once in a while. You can then get yourself back on track by planning a number of meaningful activities to enjoy for the week.
3. Are you doing too much on the weekdays?
If you are off to the gym every other night, dining with friends and working on your YouTube channel throughout the week, it’s likely that your weekend is the only time you have to catch up on everything that needs to be done before Monday. And there are just not enough hours to get through them and have some down time, right?
Ask yourself whether it might be in your best interests to do less, to reduce your stress and help you feel less drained when it comes to the weekend, so you can continue to make the most of it rather than just crash in front of the sofa.
4. Make plans for Sunday.
Whether it is to visit a friend in the park, snuggle up with a film or read a book in the bath, have something planned for Sunday, especially the evening.
Yes, you can still incorporate catching up on some housework, but make sure you don’t overdo it, pace yourself and give yourself plenty of breathing space when you are done. Ideally, you should get your housework and errands done first thing on Sunday so you’ve the rest of the day to relax and enjoy yourself with no anticipation of a Sunday evening to-do list to work your way through.
5. Can you reorganise your weekdays?
Because the nature of a Sunday is life’s catch-up day, it often involves working your way through a huge pile of life admin. If you could do just one piece of this life admin each day of the week, you’ll gain extra time at the weekend - which you should be spending on yourself - and it won’t feel like such a chore during the week as a single event.
Try it and see whether it works for you.
Let us know how you get on improving your Sunday in the comments below.