Conquering the “Sunday Scaries”

Have you ever heard of the “Sunday Scaries?” The term refers to a collection of emotions that range from mild dread to full blown anxiety about the week ahead. Most people experience these in one form or another. Of course, the “Sunday Scaries” do not have to happen on a Sunday, as the work week varies from one job to another. In addition, this feeling of foreboding is common any time we anticipate returning to a situation that could be challenging, such as heading back to campus in the fall, going back to work after maternity leave, etc. For some, the “Sunday Scaries” are potent enough to steal the joy from a day or period that should otherwise be restful. What can be done to cope when these feelings creep in?

The answer is a combination of being awareness, planning, and mindful relaxing.  

Here are six things you can try this weekend to maximize both the pleasure of your downtime and your productivity in the week ahead.

infographic about conquering the Sunday Scaries

Have you ever experienced the “Sunday Scaries?” What helps you keep them at bay so you can fully enjoy your time off?

26 thoughts on “Conquering the “Sunday Scaries””

  1. These are all such great strategies for preparing AND living in the present. And what a great infographic! The designated “no worry time” is brilliant. So often, we use up our moments by worrying about things that never happen. This, in turn, keeps us from being present with what’s right in front of us. It also adds another layer of stress. However, not worrying can be a tall order. Some of the things that help me are journaling, talking with friends, doing yoga, and mindfulness meditation.

    You made me laugh with the “get busy relaxing.” It’s an oxymoron. Relaxing connotes NOT being busy. But it’s funny because if we put as much effort into decompressing as we did worrying and working, we’d be much less stressed. I understand your point: to focus on enjoyable things, keep you in the present moment, and alleviate some stress and worry.

    1. Glad you picked up on that oxymoron, Linda. That’s exactly what I was going for – a phrase that would make you look twice! If relaxing and enjoying doesn’t come naturally, we might actually have to work on it!

  2. I love these ideas to help prevent Sunday scaries. To me nothing is scarier than a surprise date on a calendar. Previewing the week would help me know what’s ahead.

  3. For SURE! I’ve always called it Sundaynight-itis. And it takes on such weird feelings and meanings during holiday breaks, and during COVID. It’s all been weird, but I like the idea of minimizing. It’s funny because I took on a career that had odd hours and had working for myself, partly because of that feeling. The thing is, as long as I have kids in school, I may always experience it to a degree.
    Tamara recently posted…Among the Fields of GoldMy Profile

  4. Thank you for naming my feelings! There has always been something about Sundays and this defines it for me. More than that, I appreciate the suggestions about how to handle it.

    1. I definitely experience this feeling, and it has helped me to sabbath from sundown to sundown. I’ve also found it works for me to have plans with other people at some point on Sunday, because that keeps me from getting too wrapped up in my head!

  5. You nailed this! I always enjoy my Sunday more when I have mapped out what I need to do in the upcoming week. Once I have done that, then I can enjoy my “no worry zone”.

  6. I love your graphics! You hit the nail on the head with “anxiety is often exacerbated by vague concerns”. I can make a small concern into a HUGE worry by over-thinking it. I also love the idea of being busy relaxing! That would be so nice! This is a great post for Sunday evenings but also good to remember during the week.
    Diane N Quintana recently posted…Surround Yourself With Things You LoveMy Profile

    1. It’s funny how easily I can go down the “overthinking” road, and it honestly doesn’t really help me in any way. Planning, yes, but obsessing, no! I honestly have to work at relaxing… I’m working on doing better!

  7. I love the infographic! I’m definitely sharing that on my Pinterest boards. =) I dealt with the “Sunday Scaries” over the years and found that writing down to-dos and telling myself that it is time to relax has helped me enjoy the moment. Staying active, like going into the garden and pulling weeds, clearing out the garage, also helped me enjoy the moment of a Sunday afternoon. Thanks for sharing.
    Sabrina Quairoli recently posted…How to Make a Meal Planning System that WorksMy Profile

    1. Definitely staying active helps! I find that I often need to get out of my house, which was tough during COVID. If I can go somewhere (out in nature, to the beach, out with friends, etc.), it helps me keep my mind off of whatever is coming up during the week that may be making me anxious.

    1. That’s a great story, Lucy! I’ve similarly minimized anything that requires ironing around here. If my husband needs a shirt pressed off, he does it himself. I remember the sound of the ticking 60 minutes show meaning Sunday evening as well. 🙂

  8. I used to get the Sunday Scaries on Sundays until 20 years ago when I left my first career and became an organizer. That reduced the stress about 90%; making Mondays an admin day just relieved the pressure from the weekend; now if I get that feeling, it’s Monday night, instead.

    Your ideas are all great, though I’ve found having specific no-worry times doesn’t work for me; it makes me more anxious. So, I’ve learned to do like Holly Hunter in Broadcast News and set a time for doing ALLLLLLL the worrying. One fixed time, and if a specific worry (as opposed to existential angst) pops up during the day, I remind myself that my scheduled worrying time is later, like at 7:15p. Knowing I’ve blocked time for it tells my brain it’s OK not to obsess right now, and it lets me follow all of your other great advice.
    Julie Bestry recently posted…Back-to-School Solutions for the Space-Time ContinuumMy Profile

  9. This is such a common problem, and you’ve created such a practical (and doable) approach to dealing with it. My favorite steps are the last two. It’s so important to make the most of the time we have and not waste it worrying, especially since most of the things we worry about end up being less stressful than we made them out to be in our minds.

    1. I agree, Sheri. The funny thing is, the possibilities I worry most about often don’t happen. Instead, I’m faced with developments I never even considered!

  10. I’ve learned to avoid the Sunday Scaries. I love what I do, so I tend to be at the other end of the spectum. I had to learn not to work on the weekend. I do so by taking off Friday PM to Sunday afternoon. Doing my planning on Sunday afternoon helps me feel ready for the week ahead.
    Janet Schiesl recently posted…10 Steps to Reduce Paper ClutterMy Profile

    1. Yes, I totally understand that Sunday afternoon mentality. You’ve had your break, now you get ready for what is coming. What a blessing to love what you do! (I feel the same)

  11. What’s funny is that I read this on a Sunday! And it made me think about all the times in the past that I had the ‘Sunday Scaries’ about work, my kids, etc. I even had some this week with my kids going back to school. But, I’ll be sure to follow your six steps–I know they’re going to help and I’m going to bookmark this post for the future.

    Love your infographic!

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