In theory, the time between Friday evening and Monday morning should be all yours. Sunday afternoon rolls around and instead of relishing that time with family, friends, your significant other, or beloved pets, you have these thoughts racing through your head:
“What meetings do I have tomorrow?”
“What deliverables do I owe my boss?”
“What time do I have to wake up to make that morning meeting?”
Sound familiar? You’re not alone.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), stress has been classified as the health epidemic of the 21st century. Studies show that job stress is by far the major source of stress for American adults and that it has escalated progressively over the last few decades. A report by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) revealed that 40% of workers reported their job was very or extremely stressful and 25% view their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives. So, it’s not surprising that we’re seeing a phenomenon called the Sunday night blues (or Sunday scaries)— that anxiety you experience on Sunday when thinking about the impending workweek. It’s not a figment of your imagination. It’s real. According to a poll by Monster, 76% of Americans report having “really bad” Sunday night blues. Here are five strategies that will help you beat that Sunday evening anxiety so you can truly enjoy your well-earned weekend time.
1. Schedule a fun activity
If you are sitting around your house lying on the sofa, it will be much more likely for those unsettling thoughts to creep in. Try planning a fun distraction or activity to keep your focus on something positive. Devote that time to your favorite hobby, go to the movies, spend time outside or grab drinks with friends. Schedule a weekend getaway. Pay attention to when you start feeling anxious so you can plan activities that you can look forward to.
2. Disconnect from email
Just because your boss is on email doesn’t mean you have to be. Once you start responding to work emails Sunday evening, guess what—your manager is going to expect it. Instead, create a precedent where you check email during the week and weekends are for personal activities. Set boundaries and stick to them. If you can take time to recharge on the weekend, your Monday morning at work will be that much more productive.
3. Plan for the week ahead
How can I possibly disconnect from the email you say? Try planning your week in advance. Schedule time Friday afternoon to set goals and deadlines for the week ahead. Clean out your inbox so you can start fresh on Monday. You can even draft emails and schedule to send them at a future date. Organizing your thoughts and preparing for upcoming meetings, will help set you up for a good weekend.
4. Employ mindfulness techniques
Mindfulness helps us to live in the present versus the future. Here are some examples of simple meditation exercises from Mayo Clinic that can help prepare you for a successful workweek :
- Do a body scan meditation. Lie on your back with your legs extended and arms at your sides, palms facing up. Focus your attention slowly and deliberately on each part of your body, in order, from toe to head or head to toe. Be aware of any sensations, emotions, or thoughts associated with each part of your body.
- Practice a sitting meditation. Sit comfortably with your back straight, feet flat on the floor, and hands in your lap. Breathing through your nose, focus on your breath moving in and out of your body. If physical sensations or thoughts interrupt you, take note of them and then return your focus to your breath.
- Go on walking meditation. Find a quiet place (preferably outside in nature) and begin to walk slowly. Focus on the experience of walking, being aware of the sensations of standing, and the subtle movements that keep your balance. Feel the ground beneath you and focus on being in the present moment.
5. Consider a new career or job opportunity
If you have an extreme case of the Sunday night blues, it may be a sign that you need to change your job or even your career. Start by examining why you are experiencing that dread. Do you feel stuck in your job? Are you overwhelmed by your workload? Is your boss a nightmare to work for? Are you being bullied by a co-worker? Make a list of the things that may be triggering your sadness or depression. Once you get to the root of your distress, you can do something about it. It may even be time to consider starting a business so you can experience the freedom, flexibility, and fulfillment of being your own boss.
Whether you change your mindset or your career, it is possible to look forward to Mondays. Don’t settle. Time is precious, and every day you wake up is a gift. Make it count!