How to get rid of that Sunday night dread

Do you get a growing sense of dread every Sunday evening? That feeling in the pit of your stomach as you grow anxious about the working week ahead?

Well, you are not alone.

According to a 2018 LinkedIn survey, 80% of professionals say they experience Sunday evening anxiety, commonly known as the ‘Sunday Scaries.’

Over 90% of Millennials and Gen Z report feeling this form of anticipatory anxiety (an overwhelming feeling of dread about something in the future) with concerns arising about the thought of going back to work, increasing workloads, balancing personal goals and unfinished tasks from the previous week.

While the name suggests otherwise, this feeling can occur at any time during the week, depending on your personal schedule.

This level of anxiety can cause symptoms such as restlessness, irritability, a sense of unease and, in some cases, stomach issues.

‘I am naturally quite anxious, so it’s safe to say that the Sunday night blues are something I’ve dealt with since I was a teenager and first started having anxiety,’ says Monika Metodieva, a digital PR Executive at Yard. ‘I used to feel really down every Sunday night.’

The 26-year-old says that her Sunday anxiety stems from worries about what the week ahead will bring.

‘It’s not even stress,’ she adds. ‘It’s just the fact that I will probably need to leave my comfort zone.’

These feelings leave Monika with an increased heart rate and intrusive thoughts.

For Monika, getting a job she loves and having the ability to work from home dramatically helped her Sunday night blues.

‘Starting Monday morning in my own environment really makes me more comfortable,’ she explains. ‘But I know not everyone has the privilege of working a job they love or from home.’

Finishing our week in such a disruptive and overwhelming way is far from ideal. So is there anything practical we can do about it?

Acknowledge it

Rather than trying to push the worries out of your mind, try to brainstorm ways that you can make the following day more manageable. 

Spending a few minutes acknowledging your concerns, may help you find a solution. 

Trying to ignore the worries could worsen the negative feelings.

Be kind to yourself

Juliette Mullen, life coach and founder of the RISING Fierce Academy, explains that the ‘Sunday Scaries’ stimulate our fight or flight anxiety response.

So it’s important to undertake activities to self-soothe the nervous system.’

Juliette suggests taking Mondays slowly: ‘People tend to jump right into Mondays using all their energy and full force from the weekend. It’s so important to manage this energy.’

Setting intentions can ease us into the week to help avoid the fight or flight Sundays.

Make Sunday evening more exciting 

We are not suggesting you go on a night out, but why not pick a few relaxing activities for your Sunday evening. Pick something you will look forward to.

Whether that’s having a bath, watching a TV show or making your favourite dinner. Doing something you enjoy will bring some fun back into your evening and give your mind and body the chance to relax. 

Bedtime

Simple changes in your bedroom can help to reduce stress and improve sleep, which may help that Sunday evening anxiety.

‘Getting a great night’s sleep can improve concentration, reduce stress levels and even keep our hearts healthy,’ says Yvonne Keal, Senior Product Manager at Hillarys.co.uk.

‘One of the best things we can do to promote a great night’s sleep is to cultivate a nurturing and peaceful atmosphere in our bedrooms. 

‘Having a constant reminder of the day’s stresses, or even what needs to be actioned in the morning, can really impact our ability to drift off. 

‘If you can, tidy as many of your things away as possible before you head to bed to give your room a sense of order and clarity.’

Write down a list or ‘brain dump’ all your worries before you go to sleep. That way, they are ready for you to sort in the morning, and you don’t have to worry about forgetting them. This will allow your mind to relax and feel lighter as you head to sleep.

Prepare

Rather than leaving everything until the last minute, pack your work bag, prepare your lunch and get sorted for work the night before so that you aren’t in a rush the following day.

Start Monday with something you love

Whether it’s journaling, a workout or making your favourite breakfast, Monika recommends starting the day doing something you actually enjoy.

This helps ease you into a new week and give you something to look forward to the night before.

‘For me, it’s the ritual of making a nice cup of coffee while watching a YouTube video – it might not be the most “mindful” activity, but it’s something that I definitely look forward to,’ Monika says.

Change your schedule

It’s unlikely you will be able to change your job, but you may be able to control some aspects of your daily routine.

Try to schedule less daunting tasks for the first day back after the weekend. Ease yourself in with tasks that are quick and easy, so you don’t feel overwhelmed from the start of the day.

Being able to tick a few things off your to-do list first thing on a Monday morning might just help you get into the swing of things. And who doesn’t love to cross something off their list?

Try to avoid big deadlines or important meetings for Monday morning if you can.

Speak to a friend

Almost everyone you know is in the same boat, so call a friend and talk it through. I guarantee you they are feeling the same way,’ says Monika.

‘Every Monday morning, my friends and I message each other with wishes for the week ahead. 

‘It’s a great way to keep a positive attitude and keep in touch with friends. And it definitely puts a smile on my face.’

Speak to a therapist 

If you’re still feeling anxious and are continuing to experience overwhelming symptoms, it may be a good idea to speak to a therapist or GP. 

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