Healthy Mind

3 Actionable Tips To Make Sunday Scaries a Thing of the Past

Natalie Arroyo Camacho

Photo by Getty Images/Lorado
The "Sunday scaries"—or the phenomenon of experiencing elevated levels of anxiety as you ruminate on the thought of going back to work at the end of the weekend—is unfortunately a quite common sensation. A survey of more than 1,000 working Americans, conducted by sleep-focused platform The Sleep Judge, found that 81 percent of respondents reported feeling the Sunday scaries. But, it's totally possible to learn how to deal with Sunday scaries, which is important to do, both for protecting your sacred personal time away from work and also for not building up undue amounts of stress for what the week ahead may hold.

It's also worth noting that it's possible to experience the sensations of the Sunday scaries whether or not your work week starts on a Monday. “I used to be a nurse, so it wasn’t even Sunday that was scary—it was any day that I had to go into work,” says Dora Kamau, mindfulness and meditation practitioner, and host of the Sunday Scaries by Headspace podcast. “When we head into a new week, we’re entering something that we haven’t experienced before, and there’s so much uncertainty that can arise.”

“When we head into a new week, we’re entering something that we haven’t experienced before, and there’s so much uncertainty that can arise.” —Dora Kamau, mindfulness expert

But, this doesn't have to be the case. Our well-being stands to benefit from reducing anxiety brought on by what we can control—like the energy we bring into the start of a new work week. Ahead, Kamau shares three tips for how to deal with the Sunday scaries effectively to preserve your mental health and energy.

3 tips for how to deal with Sunday scaries effectively, from a mindfulness pro

1. Be present in the time you have before you start your work week.

This sense of presence requires a two-pronged approach, says Kamau. Step one is being aware of your feelings of anxiety, and step two is bringing yourself away from that anxiety-inducing thought and back to enjoying the present moment. The key here, she says, is being intentional about how you spend your free time.

Since free-time is limited, doing what you value or enjoy can help you feel more fulfilled. “I know for myself, when it’s Sunday, I’m already [thinking about] Thursday. I’m worried about things that haven’t happened yet,” Kamau says. Spending our Sundays with family or doing self care can help reduce the Sunday scaries by helping us be more present and find joy, she adds.

Being fully engaged with and present during your Sunday—whether you’re at dinner with your family, on a hike, or doing mindfulness exercises—is great for reducing the feelings of anxiety you might feel about the upcoming week. To help facilitate this sense of engaged presence, Kamau recommends focusing on the point that whatever you're feeling anxious about hasn't even happened yet.

2. Be as prepared as you can be for the work week ahead.

“For many people, it’s hard to meal prep or plan ahead for the week," says Kamau. But "there are little things that you can do before you head into the new week, even just...taking time to reflect on the past week and look at things that you could’ve done better or things that you liked that you want to bring into the new week."

Introspection and reflection, for instance, both give you not only the space to grow and think about what you can do differently, but they also provide you with a strong sense of agency, because you see yourself as the master of your destiny, so to speak.

3. Setting an intention for how you want to feel during the week.

“When you are setting intentions, it’s important to get clear on your why, your motivation, and your purpose for the week ahead [as well as the mindset] that you’re approaching the week ahead with,” says Kamau.

A question Kamau asks herself when she's setting her week’s intention is "'What do I want my week to look and feel like?'," she says. “If my feeling is 'ease,' [I ask myself] 'What are the practices that I need to do throughout the week to reconnect me back to that sense of ease?' What does that look like?' Maybe it looks like me sleeping on time. Maybe it looks like me not being on my phone as much,” she says.

Writing down reminders before the work week ahead can also be an effective way for how to deal with the Sunday scaries, says Kamau. Going back to the feeling of ease, for example, this would look like writing “ease” down on a sticky note, because doing so may reduce feelings of anxiety for the week ahead when you're able to make a connection between ease and the upcoming week. Additionally, as you see the word throughout the week, you’re transported to the intention and feeling you set for yourself before the week started.

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