No More Sunday Scaries

As I send this post I’m flying home to Austin from an epic weekend in New York. I was fully immersed in all the goodness that old and new friends can provide, and now home for about 12 hours to turn around to San Jose for work on Monday.

Epic weekend + anxiety of a busy work week ahead = prime formula for the “Sunday Scaries.”

<< Confession before you keep reading: I don’t actually suffer from Sunday Scaries anymore, which I didn’t even realize until one of my clients prompted me to write this post. I know these things work because Sunday night anxiety is not even a thing in my life. It’s so freeing. So, read through the list, and then comment below to let me know what has / will work for you! >>  

Ain’t nobody got time for BS situational anxiety during the precious time you have away from work, so here’s your 101 guide to getting rid of the Sunday Scaries.

What are the Sunday Scaries?

That feeling when the weekend is wrapping up and you don’t want it to be over. You start worrying about the week ahead, wishing there was another day off. Your mind leaves the present joy of the weekend and hops into the future, the left brain firing back up, ruminating on to-do lists, work stress, and anything else that awaits you on Monday.

What does it feel like?

It may be different for you, but the common emotions I’ve seen (and experienced) are worry, stress, fear, anxiety, lethargy, frustration, loss, resistance, depression, annoyance, dread, guilt of not taking full advantage of the rest of the weekend that’s already gone. It feels shitty. It doesn't feel “easy like Sunday morning” (why am I so vintage musical in this post??)

It could manifest physically as a headache, a pit in your stomach, tightness in your chest, frustration with the people you’re around.

How can I rid myself of the Sunday Scaries?

I dive into 6 tips that will help get you more freedom in your weekend:

  1. Don’t run away from it

  2. Redefine your Sundays

  3. Bring your “weekend vibe” into the work week

  4. Consciously have something to look forward to, and get excited for it

  5. Flip the script

  6. Pay attention to the big picture

1. Don’t run away from it:

When that familiar feeling starts creeping in, trying to escape from it with TV, booze, or <insert your avoidance mechanism of choice> won’t release the anxiety you’re feeling; it will still be there sucking your energy.

Here’s what you can do instead. Recognize that you’re starting to feel anxious, annoyed, or worried due to the looming Monday morning. You can say to yourself “oh, here’s that familiar feeling. What is this feeling here to tell me?”

Is there a big project you have this week that you don’t feel prepared for? Do you wish you could sleep in one extra day? Is there a co-worker you just do not want to see? Whatever it is will be unique to you.

Listen. Then write it down. You don’t have to do anything besides write it down, either on a post-it or digitally, then get it out of sight… maybe that means you put the post-it in your bag or by your computer, or you simply send an email to yourself. You’ve acknowledged the thing, and released it physically, so it doesn't have to take up space in your mind anymore,. You brain can rest knowing it’s something that will be there waiting for you when needed.

Or better yet, if there's something you have to tackle, put a placeholder in your calendar to do that thing later in the week… instant reminder and time set aside that you need (even if the placeholder is just blocking an extra hour you can sleep in one day if lack of sleep is the thing you’re worried about!).

2. Redefine your Sundays:

There was a phase in my consulting career where I traveled every.single.week (gross, I get chills just thinking about it… but great for some people). Sunday evenings brought MAJOR anxiety. Getting out my luggage and starting the packing ritual was a huge reminder that I was back to the grind the next day. (also a reminder that I was not in a job that was right for me, which took me 10 years to come to terms with, but you can read about that journey here.)

I recognized this as a trigger, so I changed up my routine. I started packing on Friday afternoons. Sunday evenings felt so much less dense and depressing and I made other fun plans for Sunday because there was no reason a certain day of the week had to have that much power and control over my attitude.

Instead of saving Sunday for bills, chores, or “adulting”, what’s a new ritual or routine you can use to take the density out of sunday?

3. Bring your “weekend vibe” into the work week:

Several years ago I recognized that I was totally in a mode of “working for the weekend” (which a lot of us are, hell, it’s even a song). But I said, eff this! Life happens every day, not just on the weekends. So I’ve consciously worked to bring more stuff that makes life fun on the weekends into the work week so I experience joy every day.

Instead of strictly sticking to your weekday routine of workout, work, grocery store, dinner, Netflix (or whatever your routine might be), mix it up at least one day a week. Now that it’s the summer, I proactively make plans with friends to go to Barton Springs or hit the lake. You could schedule a lunch date at a fun spot; go get a massage; get a babysitter and get a Friday night style date night in on a Tuesday; plan to go in later than normal one morning and enjoy a slow morning at your favorite coffee shop.

It doesn’t have to be anything major, just something to bring you happiness and spice up your week. Not only does this make the week seem more fun, but it actually impacts your brain, firing new neurons that get you out of auto-pilot mode and into living and appreciating the current moment.

4. Consciously have something to look forward to, and get excited for it:
This goes along with the point above, but if you know on Sunday that you have something to look forward to during the week ahead, that will automatically lessen the severity of those Sunday Scaries.

Write it on your calendar (digital or physical); close your eyes for a minute and conjure how you’re going to feel when you get to do that thing (if you don’t know what the hell that means, check out my Mindfulness Starter Kit where I talk about this); text someone who is also involved in your fun thing and share in the excitement.

It can be something related to work, family, friends, or solo; big (like a vacation) or small (like receiving a new book you’ve ordered or getting coffee with a friend)… just something simple to look forward to.

5. Flip the Script:

If you’ve been reading any of my emails or have been following my work, you know mindset is super important. And the language you use has serious power on your reality.

You can make this one super simple. What do you tell yourself when Sunday comes along? “Ugh, Sunday Scaries!” “I hate Mondays.” “My weekend is almost over!” Recognize what YOU say in your mind or out loud.

What’s the exact opposite of what you tell yourself about Sunday evenings? “Sunday Funday! I love soaking up this sweet downtime.” “Monday is coming… Great opportunity to start fresh.”... You don’t have to believe it 100%, but get a mantra in your back pocket so you can give your Sunday anxiety a different label.

6. Pay Attention to the Big Picture:

If your Sundays are filled with anxiety more often than not, it may be time to take a real look at the bigger picture. Are you in the career / relationship / city / industry / community that you want to be? Or deep down, do you know something is “off”?

If Sunday Scaries are a chronic and intense thing for you, the strategies above will help, but they won’t address the larger underlying opportunity you have to live the life you truly want. It’s worth checking in with yourself and asking if you’ve been staying in a situation that’s causing you anxiety and if you’re ready for a change.

There are literally tons of other tips I could give here, but I’m happy if your attention span has made it this far! If you want to chat about what could work for you overall to experience less anxiety and tension in your life and get more energy and passion into every day, get in touch. I 100% believe that we all owe it to ourselves to find more flow and less resistance by doing the things that are authentic to us as unique individuals, so let’s find what works for you.

Cheers and HAPPY SUNDAY!


p.s. Mental health is not something to take lightly so if you feel like you truly suffer from chronic anxiety, I recommend you seek the support of a licensed therapist.