The Sunday Scaries - Why Do We Get Them and How Do We Fight Them Off?



The dreaded end of weekend anxiety, commonly known as the ‘Sunday Scaries’, when your mind is flooded with worries in anticipation of Monday morning. Sometimes it can seem like no matter how good your Friday or Saturday have been, come Sunday morning you start feeling overwhelmed and anxious about everything coming in the week ahead - even though you’re still technically in break mode!


The good news is that it's totally normal and common to have these feelings - we see people talking about this across our communities all the time. But even so, it can make you sad and stressed out — not a great way to set the tone for a new week, or a good use of your much needed downtime. But what exactly is to blame for this end of weekend anxiety? And why does it often feel so inescapable?


The ‘Sunday Scaries’ are a form of anticipatory anxiety, which triggers our fight or flight response. Even if we don’t have a particularly stressful week coming up, this feeling can become a conditioned response. So, how can we escape this weekly cycle? We have some tips below for confronting the Sunday Scaries head on.


Plan Your Monday


One root cause of Sunday anxiety is the fear of the unknown, or feeling unprepared for the week ahead. Instead of ignoring the anxiety you are feeling, take thirty minutes to sit down and plan out your responsibilities for the coming week. Note them down in a to do list so you can see exactly what’s ahead of you. Better yet - take some time on a Friday afternoon to do this for Monday, and then if those anxious thoughts start to creep in, you can remind yourself that you are all prepared for the week ahead. Look to build on this, by reflecting on the past week and considering the things you could’ve done better or things that you liked that you want to bring into the new week. Through forward planning, this can help to eliminate anxiety on a Sunday and help you hit the ground running with productivity come Monday morning.


Create a Relaxing Sunday


It can be tempting to leave your responsibilities to a Sunday, like cleaning or grocery shopping, but knowing how heightened your anxiety can be at the end of the weekend, see if you can instead get these out of the way earlier. Try to prioritise an otherwise stress-free Sunday that will give you the space to relax. Unwind with activities that reduce stress, like reading a book before bed, taking a warm bath, taking a yin yoga class or meditating. Creating a relaxing routine you enjoy will give you something to look forward to on Sunday night.


Use Meditation or Mindfulness Exercises to Ground You in the Present


These worry and thought patterns can take us away from what is happening right now and can even make the ‘right now’ feel worse. When we feel like this, really engaging with the present moment through mindfulness or meditation can be helpful. A quick way that we can be mindful and break the worry and rumination cycle is by grounding ourselves in the ‘here and now’. Our friends at Harvard University have helped to develop a series of guided meditations that you might find helpful to work through. You can find these in our mindfulness and mediation blog here.


Practice Self-Compassion


Try not to be too critical of how you are feeling. Remember that you are only human, and the Sunday Scaries are a very human experience. Instead of beating yourself up, try and speak to yourself in the same way you would speak to a friend if they were having these feelings. If you find this hard to do, try writing your feelings down in a self-compassion letter. To build on the relaxing Sunday routine we’ve explored above, try to think about the things that bring you joy and make a point to include these too. It could be cooking yourself a meal you love or ordering your favourite food. Catching-up with a friend, painting or watching your favourite television series. Introducing compassion into your Sunday will help with the process of rewiring any anxiety-inducing associations and ultimately reshape Sunday into a day we look forward to.


Introduce Positive Anticipation


Try to plan out fun things you can do the next week, such as meeting friends for lunch or going to the cinema after work. Introducing some things to look forward to during your week can help balance out these negative emotions and make you feel more positive about the week ahead.


Start Your Week Slower


You don’t need to go from 0-100 first thing on a Monday morning and the pressure to do this may be what causes you to feel overwhelmed come Sunday night. Figure out a way to ease yourself into the week. Try to keep your morning schedule as clear as you can, to allow you to settle into the new week of priorities and understand what needs to be achieved over the coming days. This slow start may in turn help you to align your energy and awareness for a more productive week ahead.


Most importantly, when you get to Sunday morning, take a mindful moment to ask yourself what you really need that day and night to take care of you. Try to remember that we often tend to over-exaggerate our anxieties in our heads – and often these fears turn out to be unfounded. Thoughts aren't facts. Using the above strategies will hopefully help you to start to enjoy your Sundays more — and maybe even those Mondays, too!