If you regularly feel a sense of impending doom about the week ahead on Sunday evening, a.k.a the “Sunday scaries,” you’re not alone. According to an NBC News story, 76% of Americans self-reported having anticipatory anxiety before their week even begins.
In the past, I preferred to relieve this anxiety by trying not to think about it at all. You’d often find me on a Sunday afternoon practicing “Sunday Funday” at a bottomless brunch with friends or bar-hopping around Brooklyn into the evening. Not only did this habit make the start of my weeks much worse because of the hangover on Monday morning but I also wasn’t doing anything to set my week up on a positive note.
Now that I am sober, I know that drinking on Sunday to “unwind” will only make my anxiety skyrocket come Monday, so instead I practice some of the below tips to beat my “Sunday scaries.”
1. Don’t procrastinate on Friday.
Though it might be tempting to cut out of work early or catch up on Instagram when you’re feeling burned out after a long week, I recommend knocking out what you’re tempted to put off on Friday rather than saving it for Monday. Monday will come around much sooner than you think, and so will that task you didn’t do. I’ve found that having a project hang out on my To Do List and over my head is much more stressful than actually doing it. So do the thing before the weekend, and then you’ll have one less item to worry about on Sunday night.
2. Stay in the present.
This one is tough for me because I often catch myself doing the “countdown.” I’ll tell myself, “only three more hours of the weekend,” and then get anxious. Instead of enjoying those last three hours, I’m stressing about the future and wasting them. However, if I make a point to stay in the present, I’m much happier because I’m focused on what’s in front of me.
3. Give yourself a break.
If a full Sunday of commitments and activities before a full week of commitments and activities stresses you out as it does me, don’t plan anything for your Sunday ahead of time. Instead, wake up and see how you feel. That way, if you’re in the mood to go out you can, but if you’re not, you won’t feel obligated to be social if you’d prefer to stay home and relax.
4. Get organized.
Lay out your clothes for the next day, meal prep if that’s your thing (one day it will be mine, but today it is not), chop up some lemons for hot lemon water or vegetables for easy snacking, tidy up your space — do a couple of easy tasks to get set up for a positive week.
5. Go outside.
I’ve had Sundays where I wake up and all I want to do is stay cocooned in my bed. However, I’ve found that if I just go outside or get in my car and head to a yoga class, I’ll get an instant mood boost from exercise and / or increased serotonin from sunlight. Then I come home, take a shower, and get cozy again with an improved mental state and a sense of productivity.
If the word “meditate” freaks you out, just remember all it really is is being mindful of your breathing. According to an article from Medical News Today, “it is believed that by observing the breath, and regulating it in precise ways — a practice known as pranayama — changes in arousal, attention, and emotional control… are realized.” The research also finds evidence that there is a strong connection between breath-centered practices and steadiness of mind.
7. Re-evaluate your path.
I had a job in the past that filled me with so much everyday anxiety; not just the Sunday kind. This experience damaged my mental state but once I left that job, a lot of the anxiety dissipated because I no longer dreaded going to work. If your career and/or weekly routine is starting to negatively affect your mental health, consider making a change.
8. Practice gratitude.
As much of an eye-roll it can be when someone tells you to “be grateful,” I can tell you that practicing gratitude really, truly works. Before sobriety, I never used to practice gratitude. Rather than count my blessings, I would count my misfortunes as I poured myself another glass of wine. Since getting sober, I’ve made gratitude lists a regular practice. At first, it was weird and hard to come up with things I was thankful for but now that I do it regularly, I have more and more to add to the list. As Holly Whitaker said in a Tempest Sobriety School newsletter that came out the day I finished writing this piece, “everything we want starts with gratitude for what we already have. It is the prayer for expansion.”
No matter how you decide to spend your Sunday, remember to take care of yourself and use your time to do the things you know will make you feel refreshed for the week. What those things are is ultimately up to you because you know yourself better than anyone else. Still, by implementing some of our tips above, you can have a much more relaxing end to your week.