Weekends are precious, it’s our time to socialize and recoup after a long week at work, but how often do we find ourselves feeling like Sundays are less about the ending of a great weekend — than it is about the start of something we’re not looking forward to.
So many of us are sitting with this sinking feeling of the Sunday blues, and it’s all in anticipation for the week that lies ahead. In fact, a recent study from The sleep Judge has found that a staggering 81 percent of workers experience an elevated level of anxiety on Sundays.
Interestingly, the Sunday scaries are not necessarily predicated on a poor relationship with a superior. In the study people who reported having a good relationship with their manager reported an even higher level of anxiety than those who had a poor relationship. A fact that may be attributed to more work and higher expectations that come with a good boss-employee relationship.
So while a bad boss certainly contributes to the anxiety, other things contribute even more like workload, the pressure to perform, and a fear of being laid off.
Ultimately it’s inevitable for anyone of us to at least feel some level of workplace anxiety every now and then. But there are things we can do to lessen the feelings of Sunday scaries. Here are a few tips on those that helped me the most.
Treat Saturdays like they’re Sundays.
Most of us tend to live out our weekends according to the same routine. Saturdays are for fun and socializing, while Sundays are generally left for adulting and admin. This coupled with the anxiety in expectation of the week ahead only enforces the Sunday blues.
Instead of going into full crisis mode come 4 pm Sunday afternoon, take care of mundane errands, commitments, and chores on Saturday. We’re more likely to be in a better mood which means tasks can be dealt with more efficiently.
Flipping the weekend on its head allows you to have an unencumbered Sunday. Whether it’s connecting with friends or just relaxing with a book, you may find these activities to be far more rewarding if your to-do list isn’t holding a gun to your head.
The temptation to go into hibernation mode on a Sunday can be quite alluring, especially in winter. But numerous studies have found that those who have a lot of social connections are generally happier than those who don’t.
In fact, a 2010 study published by the American Sociological Review found that people who routinely attend religious services were more satisfied with their lives than those who did not. It’s not just about faith, but also about community. The researchers determined that this feeling of well-being can be attributed to a sense of belonging and friendship within the congregation.
It is therefore not so much about being a social butterfly, but rather more about forming a Sunday ritual that includes social interaction. It can be something as simple as making a habit out of attending a yoga class, a comedy club or theatre, and It doesn’t have to include a lot of people either. If you consider yourself to be a homebody you can also set up a standing dinner or game night with your closest friends.
Whatever you choose, just remember that it doesn’t have to be overly complicated. After all, no one likes deep cleaning their casserole pot on a Sunday night.
Avoid working over the weekend
In our modern world, our jobs have become more demanding, and because we’re indefinitely connected it has become far too easy to be sucked into work over the weekend. It may be as simple as firing off a few emails in the hopes of not falling behind, but what we often forget is that in doing so we’re stealing energy from doing such tasks in the week ahead.
Interestingly The sleep judge study also concluded that those who bring work home over the weekend were significantly more likely to feel Sunday anxiety than those who don’t.
By committing to disconnect from anything work-related even if for just one day, you allow yourself to fully recharge. In the short term, this will leave you better equipped to take on Monday morning with a greater level of energy. You will be more efficient at clearing out your inbox and you’ll be more motivated to take on that looming deadline.
In the long run, this will go a long way in preventing workplace burnout and fatigue. a 1996 study on workplace burnout found not taking sufficient time to recover from demanding work to be one of its leading causes.
“Individuals who lack sufficient time and support to recover fully from demanding work are vulnerable to chronic exhaustion”
Prepare for Monday on Friday
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the thought of Monday morning when you know just how much needs to be done, but you don’t have a plan of action to do it. You will feel much calmer on Sunday if you feel in control of how your Monday morning is going to pan out.
Rather than trying to balance setting up your to-do list with a full inbox Monday morning, dedicate 30 minutes of your time for planning on Friday. It can be as simple as writing a to-do list, but what I’ve found to be most effective is to also prepare and arrange everything so that I can literally jump right in.
Its also worth not giving in to the temptation to schedule or accept any Monday morning meetings, have them late afternoon instead (better yet, have them Friday). This may sound counterintuitive in the world of coordinating team deliverables, but in reality, you will have a higher reserve of mental energy to draw on for those more challenging tasks during the day.
What’s really going on
Work is never just ‘work’, it’s a combination of people, their agendas and a constant challenge to not just meet but outdo the bottom line. It’s near impossible for this recipe to be drama free for any length of time and therefore it’s normal for all of us to feel some level of work-related anxiety on occasion. But what if the above steps aren’t enough? The truth is that this is a dilemma faced by many, and if you’re one of them it may be time to ask yourself some hard questions.
Perhaps the Sunday scaries are giving you a sign that something is lurking deeper. Is it telling you that you don’t love what you’re doing anymore? That you’re not challenged in your current position? That you are longing to pursue a different passion? That you’re not matched to a job that forces you to go against your own values?
These questions can be difficult because ultimately we all fear a life lacking financial stability. But the thing is there isn’t enough money in the world to make up for emotional and physical instability. When we’re free from this anxiety we’re more energized and motivated to do an excellent job and excellence will always be in high demand.
Now I’m not suggesting you resign tomorrow, you may just need a change within your current workplace. But by answering these questions honestly, you will at least know what needs to be done. Once you know that you can plan your change accordingly.