How do you feel when Sunday rolls around? 

Maybe you had an amazing weekend, but slowly but surely, as Sunday afternoon gives way to evening, does anxiety, fear, and dread start to creep in?

The “Sunday Scaries” is a real thing, so if this is you, check out this week’s video because in it, you’ll learn how to decode why you might be feeling this way and take your Sunday back so you can face Monday refreshed and relaxed!


Prefer the audio? Listen here.

What are the Sunday Scaries? Also called the Sunday Blues, it describes feelings of anxiety or dread in anticipation of your work week ahead. It might begin the moment you wake up, get progressively worse throughout the day, or rear its head in the evening – it’s different for everyone. 

It can present with the same physical symptoms of anxiety, like a racing heart, headache, sweating, an upset stomach, and/or trouble sleeping. You might feel a sense of impending doom or fear and experience depression, resentment, anger, sadness, or loneliness. 

The biggest difference between generalized anxiety disorder and the Sunday Scaries is that the Sunday Scaries is predictable in that it happens in anticipation of the workweek. In therapy, we call this identifiable anxiety (as opposed to generalized). There is a clear pattern of cause and effect. 

How normal is it to experience this? Pre-pandemic, NBC News shared survey results reporting, “up to 76% of Americans self-reported having ‘really bad’ Sunday night anxiety.”¹ So if this is resonating with you, you are not alone. 

The recent feedback I’ve received in my private practice and in my courses and community is that people are feeling the Sunday Scaries more than ever. Considering that the pandemic impact is still lingering and all of the unrest across the world right now, it’s no surprise anxiety is at an all-time high.

From a psychological point of view, transitioning from weekend mode to work responsibility mode can create anxious thoughts. The cognitive load we carry on the weekend is usually lighter than when we are in full swing during the workweek. So you might feel overwhelm, reluctance, or dread in that transition to take on the responsibilities of the week ahead. (Note: even though it’s called the “Sunday” scaries…this can happen any day if it’s in anticipation of your workweek.)

If you struggle with perfectionism, social anxiety, or procrastination, you might be particularly vulnerable. Maybe you have a big presentation, a deadline or quota to reach, or an important client meeting and you find yourself wide awake the night before work racked with anticipatory anxiety. Maybe you’re a weekend warrior and you’re exhausted, hungover, and dehydrated, which absolutely can kick up anxiety symptoms. 

So what can we do to kick Sunday anxiety to the curb? The first step is to get clear on why you feel this way and what is creating those negative feelings. 

I invite you to commit to making some changes in your life because there are things you can do to feel better and to better manage situational anxiety. Here are some steps you can take:

Shift your mindset. Wayne Dyer said, “when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”. Changing your mindset could be one of the most powerful steps you can take to curb Sunday anxiety. 

Try to think about your weekend or time off from work as a mini-vacation – a sacred time where you get a chance to fill up your reserves, rest, and recharge. 

How can you mindfully make choices throughout your weekend to support yourself? What would make your time off feel expansive and restorative instead of just like a giant clock ticking down to the workweek? 

It is impossible to perform optimally if we don’t fill our own cup. And if we are intentionally and consistently meeting our own needs during our time away from work with self-care, rest, play, creativity, intimacy, etc…it can really help reduce feelings of anxiety. 

Take a tech break. Especially if you use your phone and your computer for work, consider setting up some better boundaries with your technology during your weekend time. Give your eyes a break, give your brain a break, and give your nervous system a break. It is important to make an intentional delineation between work and the rest of your life and being on tech, it can be so easy for those lines to blur (“oh, I’ll just check this one email…”). Decide to unplug, detach, and rest. 

Create a Sunday ritual. Our brains really love consistency and predictability. Choose activities you find relaxing and fulfilling and institutionalize them into your Sunday afternoons. Whether it’s a walk outside in nature, a luxurious soak in the tub, or taking some time out for mindfulness practices, making it a habit can inspire feelings of safety and relaxation. 

Get curious about your anxiety. This looks like really checking in with yourself when feelings of anxiety come up. Is there a precipitating event that triggered the way you’re feeling? How satisfied are you in your current position at work? Are there conflicts at work or do you have difficult personalities that might be fueling your Monday dread? Inside the guide, I’ve created a self-inventory for you to get more clarity on what is really going on under the surface of the Sunday scaries. You can download it here now

Flex your “be here now” muscle. So much of anxiety is about ruminating on the past and catastrophically projecting into the future. Incorporating a daily practice of meditation or mindful breathing will help create internal expansion and increase your ability to stay in the present moment. You don’t need to meditate for 2 hours a day. Start small with 5-20 minutes. I have included some free resources for you inside the guide right here

Start a journal practice to brain dump. I love Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages exercise in The Artist’s Way. It’s a free-writing stream of consciousness without self-editing for a set amount of time. Basically, you’re dumping out whatever is on your mind that is stressful, almost like clearing away the cobwebs so you can release them and start with a clean slate. You can try it daily or on the day before you go back to work. 

Get support from a mental health professional. If your anxiety is interfering with your sleep and your ability to execute the things you need to do in your life, and you feel it is way more than just before the start of the workweek, I would encourage you to seek out a therapist. There are amazing online options, and I am a proud partner (and an affiliate) of Better Help, a virtual mental health platform my team and I have completely vetted. For more info, you can go to terricole.com/betterhelp

If you are struggling with the Sunday scaries or any other kind of anxiety, you don’t need to suffer. Take the time to more deeply understand what you are experiencing, commit to making some positive changes, and get the support you need.

I hope this episode added value to your life, and if it did, please share it and connect with me here in the comments or on Instagram @terricole. 

I hope you have an amazing week, and as always take care of you.

¹https://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/sunday-scaries-are-real-why-ncna783186

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