Have you ever had an enjoyable weekend, only to find that on Sunday evening, you’re hit with a sense of worry or dread about the upcoming week in the office, school, or your working-from-home set-up? The term coined for this is the ‘Sunday scaries’ and the feeling of creeping anxiety is felt by many.
Research findings highlight that it is extremely common to experience these feelings. The research commissioned by the Office for Health Improvements and Disparities found that 67% of Britons are frequently experiencing anxiety on a Sunday about the week ahead.
The emotion is usually caused by having to wave goodbye to the fun, relaxing weekend and the realisation that you must face all of your upcoming responsibilities, with work-related stress being the most common trigger, according to the survey results.
The health specialists at Delamere rehab clinic have shared some tips for making small changes that can add happiness to your routine and help you prepare for a productive week ahead, regardless of what that may mean.
Plan your Monday morning routine
Creating a schedule for Monday is a great way to take control of your fears and be proactive in dealing with your Sunday anxiety. Schedule some time on Friday afternoons before signing off for the weekend to set some goals and deadlines for the following week. Organising your thoughts, time, and preparing for upcoming events will help you head into the weekend positively.
Try creating a list of all the things you ideally want to achieve by the end of the week, as well as fun activities for the evening or during your lunch breaks that will give you something to look forward to when returning to work or school. Fun shouldn’t be restricted to just the weekend – planning a mid-week activity can help you break up the work week.
Fun activities could include a trip to the cinema, a long walk in the park with your dog, treating yourself to lunch at a local cafe or even a spontaneous visit to see friends or family nearby.
Exercise is also a great way to increase your weekday productivity. Consider a workout activity that you find more stimulating and fun, perhaps a jog, run or something that includes a social element allowing you to spend time with other people.
Make Sunday the new Saturday
Typically we schedule our fun activities for a Saturday and our obligations on Sunday. This only reinforces the weekend blues and reminds us of the upcoming responsibilities in the week ahead. Instead, take care of your chores, errands, and commitments on Saturday, leaving yourself plenty of time on Sunday for fun and relaxation.
You are naturally in a happier mood on Saturday, so it will make it easier to get through your weekend to-do list, whether that’s your weekly food shopping, meal preparation for the week, cleaning the house or sorting your finances.
Plan something fun for Sunday so you have something to look forward to. Depending on your budget, you could go out for a roast dinner, cook a family dinner, invite friends over for a coffee and a catch-up, or take a trip to the beach or park.
Adopt relaxation techniques
While filling your Sundays with fun activities that keep your spirits high, setting aside time to unwind and mentally prepare for the week ahead is important. If you’re stressed on a Sunday night, you will feel more dread and anxiety about getting up in the morning and returning to work and may find it hard to fall asleep. Spending time relaxing in the evening will make you feel calmer about your transition into the upcoming week.
If you start to feel anxious or stressed on a Sunday afternoon or evening, here are some relaxation techniques you can try to calm your nerves.
- Take a hot shower or bath.
- Read a book.
- Meditate or try some yoga poses.
- Listen to relaxing music.
- Play with your children or dog.
- Go for a walk.
- Watch your favourite funny movie or TV show.
You need to find things that truly relax you and take your mind away from work.
Exercise over the weekend
Being physically active outdoors has been shown to reduce stress, anger, depression, and overall mental and physical health. Exercising is a natural and effective way to reduce Sunday anxiety. It can help relieve tension and enhance well-being by releasing feel-good hormones called endorphins. These include serotonin and dopamine, the hormones that calm and relax the nervous system.
When exercising over the weekend, we experience happiness, relaxation, overall mood improvements, and lower anxiety symptoms. It doesn’t have to be anything strenuous. As little as 10 minutes a day can help to lower anxiety. Walking to the park with friends and family, heading on a light jog, or even taking the children for a swim will help you feel more relaxed and experience less stress about the week ahead.
Your weekend should be a time to relax and unwind. Still, often we find ourselves glued to our phones, checking work notifications and looking to see how others are spending their weekends on social media, which can create a lot of unnecessary stress and anxiety.
Although it can be tempting to scroll through your work emails or check your messages from colleagues, it can be a pointless task that leaves you feeling restless, drained and unable to live in the moment.
A total phone ban can be challenging, so stick to cutting screen time on apps that make you feel more anxious, be it Instagram, WhatsApp or Slack. Turn off weekly notifications or temporarily delete the app if that helps.
Before bed, it’s important to practise switching off technology and learning how to get a good night’s sleep, which many people struggle to do on a Sunday evening. The blue light emitted by your smartphone restricts the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep-wake cycle.
So by scrolling on your phone before bed or watching television, it can become more difficult to fall asleep and wake up the following morning.
You should stop using electronic devices, whether your phone, tablet or games console, for at least 30 minutes before bedtime – instead, pick up a book.
Start a Sunday journal
Writing down your thoughts, feelings and emotions on a Sunday evening can increase your chances of falling asleep easily and help calm your mind before bedtime. Instead of letting your anxious thoughts take control of your nighttime, write them down through a stream of journaling to help ease Sunday anxiety.
Sunday journaling can help you prioritise your problems, fears and concerns. Tracking your emotions on a Sunday so you can recognise what triggers your anxiety and stress and learn ways to better control them.
To get started, grab a notebook and get cosy and let your thoughts take it away.