You know the feeling. It’s Sunday and the start of the workweek is looming. Worries about the week ahead are making their way front and center as you start to think about tasks not completed the week prior, mounting pressure for the week ahead, and how you are going to balance your personal, family, and professional to-do lists.
There’s actually a name for this – it’s called the “Sunday Scaries” and you’re not alone as an estimated 80% of professionals experience some form of Sunday anxiety.
What are the Sunday Scaries?
The Sunday Scaries is just a clever name for anxiety that creeps in as your weekend winds down and you start to contemplate, ok worry, about what the new week has in store. Even if you don’t have a stressful job or are not anticipating a difficult week, Sunday anxiety can become a conditioned response. If you habitually equate work with stress, your brain begins to identify thoughts of work as a perceived threat, worrisome thoughts begin to creep in, and you have the perfect recipe for Sunday anxiety.
Increased anxiety and stress about an event that has not happened yet is called “anticipatory anxiety” and it triggers the body’s flight or fight response, increasing levels of the stress hormone cortisol. When this happens, your body is experiencing a very real stress response to a threat that is only perceived or imagined. The Sunday Scaries are a classic example of anticipatory anxiety.
Sunday anxiety can kick in for other reasons as well. It may be a sense that you didn’t maximize your time over the weekend to justify another long work week, or that you procrastinated and now have to squeeze in last week’s chores into this week’s schedule. The opposite also could be true: you were hyper-productive over the weekend and did not allow time for relaxation, connecting with friends, or spending time in nature. All of these can lead to that oh-so-familiar Sunday anxiety as you watch the weekend hours dwindle.
How to Cure the Sunday Night Blues
Now that you know what Sunday anxiety is and some of the common triggers, let’s talk about how to break the cycle and create new patterns of behavior.
A great place to start is with a mindfulness and meditation practice to help reset your thoughts so you can approach the week with an increased sense of acceptance and calm. I love vinyasa and other energetic yoga styles; however, Sunday evenings are an ideal time to try a restorative class, yoga nidra, or meditation. Calming the central nervous system is critical to breaking the flight-or-fight response and lowering the stress hormones that contribute to Sunday anxiety. It is essentially like hitting the reset button for your mental and physical well-being.
When you step away from the worrying mind (often referred to as the “monkey mind” in yoga because the mind is swinging from one worrisome thought to the next), you begin to feel a reprieve from anticipatory anxiety and the Sunday Scaries. Mindfulness and meditation help you stop fixating on the myriad unknowns for the upcoming week and turn your attention to the present moment. It is here, in the present moment, where you can find gratitude for the people, situations, and things in your life that spark joy and make you feel grounded and connected.
Other practical strategies for combating Sunday anxiety include getting regular exercise, eating healthy meals (artificial ingredients and highly processed foods can increase feelings of anxiety and stress), getting adequate sleep (this is critical for healthy hormone function and managing stress), and making meaningful personal connections (join our amazing community here at Ohana!).
However you tackle the Sunday Scaries, we are here to support you! We have a full library of on-demand classes as well as Livestream options that you can access from the comfort of your own home. If you’re craving human connection, we also have a full schedule of in-person classes in our beautiful Denver studio!
Erin Entlich is a certified yoga instructor, personal trainer, holistic health coach, and writer. She believes doing good starts with feeling good, which is why she loves helping people weave movement, mindfulness, and healthy eating into their daily lives. Find out more at www.erinentlich.com.