To outside appearances, Ashli Stockton had it all. A young professional living in New York City, she had a job that she worked hard to get, paid well, and allowed her to travel all around the world. Yet inevitably, every Sunday evening she felt, well, depressed. “I was not only dreading the following day, but the entire week ahead,” she says.
Stockton tried everything to snap out of it. Exercising, antidepressants, wine…None of it worked. It wasn’t until she reserved Sundays for self-care that she started to feel less anxious. “I created this ritual where I would light a lot of candles in my room, put on a kimono or comfy loungewear, meditate for five minutes, and just relax,” she says. From then on, her Sunday evenings were set aside for reading and face masks—not scrambling to finish weekend chores or getting ahead on emails.
Her weekly ritual was so transformative for her that it spawned her business Sunday Forever, a self-care marketplace. “The Sunday Scaries was literally the reason why I started the brand and the inspiration behind the name,” Stockton says. “It’s really about bringing nice things to people who want to feel good and create a sanctuary, whether it’s a tiny studio or a big home.”
There are other ways to fend off the Sunday scaries, too. Here, Stockton and happiness expert Dr. Cassie Mogilner Holmes, PhD, share their best tips.
Scroll down for ways to say goodbye to the Sunday Scaries once and for all.
Explore why you’re feeling down
According to Dr. Holmes, who is a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, getting the Sunday Scaries is totally normal—and doesn’t just happen to people who don’t like their jobs. “It’s that feeling of anticipation of what’s to come, realizing all the things you should have done that you haven’t and everything the next week has in store for you,” she explains.
The knee-jerk reaction may be to distract yourself from feeling sad, but Stockton says there’s something to sitting with it, thinking about why you feel that way. It’s what led her to quit her job and launch a new business. Even if it doesn’t lead to making a move that big, it still provides an opportunity to reflect on what would make you deeply happy.
So how do you know if you just have the pre-Monday blues or are legit depressed? According to Dr. Homes, if your sullen feelings are specific to Sundays, that’s normal. But if you’re feeling withdrawn and depressed for a prolonged period of time, that’s when you should seek out help.
Outsource your chores
“There is a lot of recent research suggesting that most people under-outsource their chores and this is actually a very happy use of money,” says Dr. Holmes. “If you dread Sunday grocery shopping, laundry, or cleaning the house, these are all things you can outsource.”
Inevitably there will be chores you have to do yourself, either because you can’t afford to have everything delegated to a TaskRabbit or only you can do them properly. And for these, Dr. Holmes says it’s best to get them out of the way first thing Saturday.
Stockton says she does her best to actually knock them out during the week. “I have no problem spending two hours on a Tuesday night doing laundry so it will free up my weekend,” she says. However you handle your to-do list, Dr. Holmes says it will help dissipate that feeling of not having accomplished enough by the time the weekend starts coming to a close. “And it stops them from looming over your head all weekend,” she says.
Give yourself something to look forward to
Dr. Holmes says Stockton’s instinct to transform Sunday nights into a time pre-planned with a fun activity is spot on. But staying in isn’t the only way to do it. “If you apply all the research on the happy ways to spend time, it points to active, social activities,” she says. “Go out for a movie with a friend instead of spending Sunday night watching one at home. Or even meeting up with someone in the afternoon for a walk or yoga can help.”
Maybe you feel most recharged pampering yourself solo like Stockton, or maybe meeting up with a friend is what energizes you. Whatever it is, get it on the books for Sunday and chances are, you’ll be enjoying yourself so much that there won’t be room for the blues.