Expert Tips to Beat the “Sunday Scaries”

Expert Tips to Beat the “Sunday Scaries”

For people who work Monday through Friday, Sundays evokes all kinds of feelings.

For some, it’s another day away from your desk — yay! For others, it’s an anxiety-filled day thinking about the week ahead.

If you fall into the latter group, say hello to the “Sunday Scaries.”

But what exactly are Sunday Scaries?

This is anxiety directly connected to the impending doom of returning to work or school on Monday, explains Brooke Aymes, a psychotherapist at Gaining Grace LLC.

“Individuals typically cope by spending their entire day preparing for the upcoming week rather than actually enjoying the weekend day,” she adds.

This only increases your anxiety — and robs you of some much-needed time spent alone or with loved ones.

If this sounds all too familiar, try the expert tips below to squash your Sunday Scaries, enjoy the end of your weekend, and head into the work week with confidence — and less stress.

Woman relaxing outdoor on patio.

1. Be Deliberate

It’s natural to want go-with-the-flow weekends. However, Aymes recommends having a plan.

“Schedule in time to relax, time to nap, and time to watch your guilty-pleasure television shows,” she says.

This way you ensure you will take that time to truly recharge rather than wandering aimlessly from one thing to another.

2. Plan Something That Excites You

Do that streaming workout you’ve been meaning to try, cook a new, delicious recipe, pick up that hobby you’ve neglected, go for a long hike, or hit the beach for the day.

“A big part of managing anxiety is managing your attention,” explains Aimee Daramus, PsyD, a clinical psychologist in Chicago. “If you’re doing something that grabs all of your attention, it’s harder for those feelings to get through.”

young woman out on a hike

3. Practice Being in the Moment

“When we are fully present in the moment we are less likely to feel anxious about the future,” Aymes says.

Help keep yourself in the here-and-now by using mindfulness practices.

This could include any kind of physical activity, spending time in nature, making a craft, or 10-minute guided meditation.

“Exercise encourages our minds to focus on how our body feels and helps us relax after exerting a large amount of energy,” Aymes explains. “Nature reminds us of the simplicity that exists underneath the noise of our daily routine. Tapping into our creativity reminds us of what we are capable of. And playing helps quiet our minds.”

4. Express Yourself

“Anxiety feels uncomfortable in the body,” says licensed mental health counselor and registered art therapist Jocelyn Patterson. “We want to get that discomfort out of our bodies.”

To do this, find a mode of expression that works for you, such as writing, drawing, or dancing.

Patterson suggests:

  • A stream of consciousness journal: Write down every single thought you have for 30 seconds. When you’re done, look through and identify if any thoughts are based in reality so that you can prepare yourself for those, and toss the remaining unrealistic ones in the mental shredder.
  • A visual check-in: Use a small square of paper (a couple inches) and fill that space with colors, lines, and shapes that represent how you feel. “If you’re up to it, take a minute and notice what you’ve created. Do you like it? What surprises you about it?” Patterson says.
  • Dance: “Focus on exerting the energy that you’d like to get out of your system, recognizing that larger movements take more energy to create,” Patterson suggests.

Woman relaxing in bed looking at her tablet

5. Have “Me” Time

Brunches and watching sports with friends are always great ways to ward off the Sunday Scaries.

However, you have a whole week of interactions coming up, and interactions take energy, Patterson says.

“Try not to deplete yourself of the energy you’ll need to engage with others [in the week ahead],” she warns.

Spending some time alone on Sundays means you can retain energy you’d use listening to people vent, trying to come up with responses to topics that might not enthrall you, or attempting to split the bill after you’ve had a few mimosas.

6. Give Yourself a Pep Talk

“You know yourself better than anyone and, deep down, you know what you need to hear to get yourself in gear for the week,” Patterson says.

So put on your coach hat and deliver a speech to yourself that will get you jazzed.

If doubts or questions arise, give yourself the time to process them and counter them with the facts.

7. Start on Friday

On the last day of the week, take a few minutes and write down the tasks you’ll have to do the following week, suggests Kathryn Ely, an associate licensed counselor, and national certified counselor. Then prioritize them.

When thoughts pop up over the weekend about other things you have to do, add them to the list. Then let them go.

“If you don’t, these tasks will swirl around in your head, which can easily turn into dread,” Ely explains.