Whether you love your job or your feelings err on the side of lukewarm, at some point in your professional career you’ve probably fallen victim to the “Sunday Scaries” and no matter how much fun you've had on your two-day respite, you can’t seem to deter that sinking-feeling that starts on a Sunday afternoon, growing more intense as it stalks you well into the night.
Sound familiar? Fear not, it's common. But, this weekly occurrence doesn’t always signal a warning sign. In fact, neuropsychologist, Dr. Susanne Cooperman recently spoke to NBC News stating that this feeling can simply be a “by-product of the week ahead” Cooperman also adding that there’s a physical element to this feeling also. “The adrenal glands sit on top of the kidneys and they release adrenaline and cortisol,” she explains. “They flood the system and you have a real stress reaction and it feels like real anxiety,” making it such a visceral emotion. In terms of remedies, Cooperman suggests sleep, tech-free time and a thorough wind-down routine.
Our editors also know this common feeling all too well. Busy days, and constant multi-tasking often leaves us needing to spend our weekends strategically relaxing, in order to re-energise for the new week. So, to help give you some ideas for how to manage the Sunday blues, the team have shared some fail-proof rituals that they’ve cultivated over the years.
I try and keep Sunday free—to cook a healthy meal in bulk that I can eat on weeknights, listen to records (a great new thing!), have a nice glass of wine with my husband outside… it is these home-focused rituals that give me perspective and remind me what’s really important in my life. I also spend time on a Friday rescheduling meetings or personal appointments in the following week if looking at my calendar is making me feel sick. I used to feel really guilty about that but then I changed my approach to just being more honest.
The first thing to understand, is that Sunday Scaries are normal—you just have to know how to manage your Sunday night blues. I have my prep down to a fine art, but admittedly this routine can be pretty exhausting lining everything up so I can truly shut my brain off. My Sunday night wind-down actually begins on Saturday. I get my groceries out of the way first thing (literally nothing worse than Broadway on a Sunday afternoon), and then clean the house. Once that’s out of the way I can relax into my weekend without the burden of next week’s prep weighing over me.
Come Sunday afternoon, I try and have an activity in place so I’m not just sitting around and waiting for the weekend to wrap up. I like to cook something new (so I really have to focus), start a new series on Stan or Netflix, go for a long walk, or catch up with friends for dinner. From there, I scan my inbox and calendar for the week, so I feel prepared for what’s to come. This doesn’t work for everyone, but spending half an hour on work on a Sunday actually makes me feel better equipped to tackle the week head-on and rest easier. When it’s time for bed, I use essential oils to help relax my body and mind, and then give myself a little jade-roller massage up and down my neck and shoulders. I’m asleep before I know it!
I think it’s important to remember that a small rush of cortisol on a Sunday night can be normal. However, it’s worth noting how paralysing it can be, and deciphering what particularly is making you stressed. If it’s simply the week ahead, then it’s perhaps nothing to worry about, but if it’s a constant feeling that gets elevated on Sundays, it might be time to think about whether you’re in the right workplace or role.
Ever since I started working full-time I’ve been precious about my weekends. I prioritise exercise, good food, sleep and preparation—even if that means turning down a few social engagements (but I’m an introvert so that works for me.) I always start my mornings by going for a coffee with my partner and unpacking the week—what we liked about it, what we didn’t. On Saturdays I try to get the groceries out of the way, and plan what I’m going to cook for the week. We live near the beach, so we spend a lot of time lounging and reading. Sundays are all about taking extra care of my skin, meal-prepping, cleaning the house and checking my calendar for the week ahead. I’ve learned doing these (sometimes annoying) tasks on a Sunday reduces my to-do list on a weekday and actually allows me to stress less on Monday-Friday so it’s pretty even throughout.
I definitely suffer from the Sunday Scaries every now and again. I think it’s unavoidable, no matter how much you love your job! I like to wind down quite early send be in bed by 10 p.m., that way I don’t feel anxious about being tired heading into the week. I might also spend 10 minutes jotting down important notes in my diary. It gives me a sense of control over the week ahead. I also love to meal prep. It doesn’t have to be huge, even if I just make double portions of dinner Sunday night. That way, I have a healthy lunch sorted and don’t need to worry. If I’m feeling super lazy, my go-to is a can of tuna, a bag of pre-made salad from the grocery store, and a little avocado. Healthy, filling, and not completely boring.
Nowadays, my Sundays are an alcohol-free zone. Even a glass of red with Sunday lunch is off the menu. It sounds strict but it helps me reset, keeps my head clear and I get more done with my day—plus, nothing beats waking up well rested and hangover free for the start of a new week. And while I’m not great at planning my work wardrobe for the week ahead of time, I always ensure I check in with my work calendar early on a Sunday so I have an idea of the meetings I have to prep for and the projects I’m working on that week.