How do you usually feel on Sunday evening? If a sense of dread and anxiousness starts to creep in as the weekend fades away and the work week is around the corner you are not alone. According to a recent survey of American adults, 39% of people age 18-21 and 38% of people aged 22-39 experience this dread and anxiousness all or most weeks. These feelings on Sunday evening have become known by many as the “Sunday scaries.” The name may sound silly and cute, but if you are experiencing this it probably feels far from it. The Sunday scaries can set in for a variety of reasons such as being overwhelmed with responsibilities, feeling your abilities are mismatched with your job, overworking, lack of support, and so on. Anytime our responsibilities outweigh our resources this can lead to stress, dread, anxiousness and, over time, maybe even feelings of burnout.
Check out these tips to help outsmart the Sunday scaries in the new year:
Identify the reason.
Take a few minutes and ask yourself these two questions: “What am I dreading about my work week?” and “If I could change anything about my work week what would I change?” There are likely parts of your week you enjoy and some you dread. For example, you may dread waking up early or the flood of emails in your inbox but enjoy talking with a coworker or working on a new project. In the rush to prepare for the week ahead we may blow past these feelings of dread. However, in the rush we may be missing some important clues for what we need to increase or decrease throughout the week to reduce the dread and stress.
Make changes. Just because you are feeling dread about your week doesn’t mean you need to make a drastic life or career change. Start with small changes with the parts of your week you have control over. For example, start your day with reviewing daily goals, plan lunch with a friend or coworker, review your responsibilities with your team, or plan an unplugged vacation. If regular feelings of dread continue after multiple changes then you might be experiencing more on-going stress or feelings of burnout and more extensive changes might be needed. Reach out to a friend, mentor, or therapist to talk through possible life or career changes you think could be helpful.
When you dread times of your week you have no control over, focus on increasing self-care or add things you enjoy to offset the dread. For example, listen to your favorite music when working on dreaded tasks or ask a friend to help out with a difficult part of your week. Prioritizing your own well-being and communicating what you need can really help to reduce stress and dread. The people around you cannot read your mind so unless you ask for what you need they may assume you are taking care of yourself and feeling good about your role and responsibilities.
By Jennifer Wilmoth, LMFT
YouGov research survey https://today.yougov.com/topics/economy/articles-reports/2021/08/13/sunday-scaries-poll-data