Do You Have a Case of the Sunday Scaries?

Dear Sundays,

I love/hate you. Yes, you are the supposed day of rest YET you are also a day of stress… In comes the Sunday scaries…

Sundays have seemed to turn into the day for grocery shopping, washing laundry, folding laundry, washing dishes, catching up on bills, prepping for work on Monday, maybe looking over emails, and more.

Doesn’t sound like rest to me- sounds like work. And the overwhelming feeling of dread for the workweek to begin can be a major buzzkill for anyone’s weekend.

Sunday can also be difficult because it can remind me of loss. I sometimes find myself missing the weekends of being a child, where Friday to Sunday was full of freedom, playing, eating delicious (free) food, and having parents down the hall who would tuck me in at night and tell me everything will be okay.

As adults, it is now our job to make our own food, pay the bills/rent, and tell ourselves everything will be okay. When I stop to read over this paragraph, I feel the melancholy that comes with nostalgia.

When we blend both sadness and anxiety together, it can feel overwhelming and unmanageable. However, being able to name the emotion that is the most present can also diminish its power.

When you are starting to feel the effects of Sunday scaries – ask yourself, “What emotion is the most present with me right now? Where in my body can I feel it?” If sadness is with you, maybe this article can be more helpful. If it’s anxiety, keep reading.

Sunday scaries are less scary on the days I tell myself, “I CAN DO THIS!” (and try to believe it as much as possible), call someone I love, and when I love myself.

So here is to everyone out there who are just as terrified of Sundays as I am- you are not alone and YOU CAN DO THIS! Here are 5 self-care tips to eliminate the Sunday scaries!

5 Self-Care Tips to Eliminate the Sunday Scaries

1. On Sundays, Look Out for Your Future Self

Instead of rushing out of the door ASAP on Friday, try to get as much done as you can. This will make Monday feel less daunting knowing you don’t have a pile of paperwork to go through when you get to work.

And let’s be honest, some Fridays you will REALLY just want to get outta there.

On those days, try to write a quick to-do-list and leave it on your desk for yourself to find on Monday. Writing a to-do-list can help decrease the number of anxious thoughts you’ll have to work during the weekend.

Don’t worry future self- you know what you need to do and I’ve already written it down. Pro tip: Download this to-do-list to prioritize your work.

Dear Sundays, I love/hate you. If you have a case of the Sunday Scaries, try out these 5 self-care tips to start your week off right!

2. On Sundays, Pencil in “Opposite Time”

What does your job entail? Sitting at a desk? Working hard labor outside? Talking with a lot of people? Think of how you spend the majority of your time at work and then intentionally schedule some time to do the exact opposite.

For example, as a therapist, my typical workday entails me sitting in a chair listening and talking with others. So, for my opposite time I try to make sure I get a few hours outside and alone.

Doing the opposite of your job is a great way to signal to your brain, “HEY! WE AREN’T WORKING AND RIGHT NOW YOU DON’T NEED TO THINK ABOUT WORK.”

When your brain recognizes your body isn’t in your typical work environment, it also signals to your body to relax.

3. On Sundays, Laugh… Hard!

When stress takes over and you feel overwhelmed, it can become easy to go down Anxiety Road. When this happens, it can look like this: shoulders rise up, jaw becomes tense, you feel an urge to withdraw from others, a desire to avoid anything or anyone that might trigger more stress, you might isolate yourself, feelings of sadness could come up, and then it might end with a cupcake (or 4) and mac & cheese.

Learn your triggers. When do you realize you might be going down Anxiety Road? Do your shoulders become tense?

Do you stop responding to friends’ texts? When you realize you might be going to Anxiety Road, try to bring in another emotion into play to disrupt the potential pattern.

For example, watch a funny YouTube video, call a friend who can make you laugh to get lunch or dinner, or even sit with a soft smile on your face. Research shows that simply smiling will release more endorphins and serotonin.

4. On Sunday, Meditate

Take a 20-minute breather. (If you are anything like me- your first thought after reading that sentence was, “What?! 20 MINUTES? Who has time for that?!” And let me tell you… if that was your initial response, you need meditation more than anyone.)

For Sunday Scaries, I recommend a loving-kindness meditation. This one is pretty good and is only 15 minutes long. If you are new to meditation, check out our Guided Meditation series with our very own mindfulness expert, Dr. Cameron Gordon!

5. On Sundays, Accept… Tolerate… Repeat

What happens when I want to do absolutely nothing on Sunday AND I have to prepare for a big presentation to give on Monday morning?

Accept it. The more that I fight against reality, the more miserable I’ll be. If I simply accept I have chores, work, and errands to do on Sunday, the more likely I will be able to approach the tasks and complete them quickly and efficiently.

Tolerate. When two opposing things are true at the same time it can feel distressing. For example, you want to go on a vacation AND you don’t have the money to afford it. One side of the example is not truer than the other. Being able to tolerate this distress builds up resilience!

Are you feeling distressed? Explore the feeling as if it was the first time you ever felt that way. Where in your body do you feel distressed? Can you breathe into the spot where it is most present in your body? Tell yourself, “Bring it on, distress! I can handle you!”

Repeat. The more you learn to tolerate a distressing situation, the stronger you will become. If you know Sunday nights are triggering for you, try to reframe the end of the weekend as a distress tolerance work out!

Click here for more content by Laura Hamilton, M.Ed., NCC!

Laura Hamilton, M.Ed., NCC
Laura strives to facilitate insight, positive change, and growth for young adults and adults. In her work, she considers collaboration and the therapeutic relationship to be the foundation of change and healing. Laura helps individuals overcome difficulties such as substance abuse, adjustment to college, grief & loss, and relationship concerns.


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