For those of us who get weekends off, Sundays are meant to be a day of rest and relaxation. But for employees who dread the first morning back into the office, it can bring the “Sunday Scaries,” a catch-all term for anxiety about the upcoming week that has become a hashtag, brand, and lifestyle for the worried among us.
And there are many of us who feel the low-thrum of anxiety on Sunday night. According to a new LinkedIn poll of over 1,000 professionals, an overwhelming 80% of working employees get the Sunday Scaries. The number jumps up to 91% with Millennials.
How to combat the Sunday Scaries
What causes this weekend anxiety? Work. The work you did do and the work you have yet to do. Worries about workload (60%), balancing personal and professional obligations (44%), and thoughts about the tasks you did not finish last week (39%) were the top reasons employees gave for feeling the Sunday Scaries.
Going to bed with dread about your job sets the wrong tone for the start of your next day. There is another way, though. Rather than get consumed with existential anxieties about actions you cannot predict, deadlines you have yet to complete, people you have yet to meet, focus on what you can do. The foundation of cognitive behavioral therapy is to change how you think, so that you can change how you feel. Use Sundays as a period of reflection, so that you can get in the right head space for the week ahead.
Do what you can to take care of your anxious body. Show compassion towards yourself. If exercise is your favorite form self-care, go for a run, ride your bike, meditate at a yoga class. Make a comforting meal for yourself. Call up your friends and family to remind yourself of the world outside of your worried brain. And when the day ends, journal about it. Write down your worries. When you see your fears written down, it can help you understand what fictions you are telling yourself. One study found that students who wrote about their worries before a big exam boosted their test-taking performance. When you give your fears names and verbs, it helps you put them in perspective.
And it may help to end your day on a moment of gratitude. Remembering the small moments of joy in your day can prepare you to face the unknown challenges of the work week ahead. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said that when she started writing three moments of personal joy at the end of each day, she radically changed her perspective about the future: “I used to go to bed every night thinking about what I did wrong and what I was going to do wrong the next day. Now I go to sleep thinking of what went right.”