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  • Writer's pictureNat McDonald

The "Sunday Scaries" - do you experience them and if so what can you do?

I popped up a poll yesterday on my Instagram Stories asking whether you experience the "Sunday Scaries".

If you're not familiar with the term its generally used to describe a feeling of anxiousness or unease that comes when thinking about the week ahead, usually experienced on a Sunday afternoon or evening. Aside from anxiety it can be accompanied by a number of physical symptoms including stomach issues, irritability and interrupted sleep.

My poll resulted in 82% “Yes” from 17 responses. This correlates closely to other broader studies done in this area… LinkedIn did a more substantial survey pre-pandemic which found 80% of professionals experience the "Sunday Scaries".

Psychologists explain this feeling as a response to the perception of some sort of anticipated threat. The perceived threat varies—it might be knowing we’ll be incredibly busy in the week ahead, a looming deadline, a specific event that we’re not looking forward to, or having to interact with people we’d rather not —but the commonality is that we jump to the conclusion that it’s going to be unpleasant… and hence start to feel trepidation and fear.

On top of this there’s the very real problem that we increasingly try to cram more & more into our weekends. Kids activities, house stuff, shopping for food and other essentials, and work … weekends looking a lot like weekdays?!? So the “traditional” time to recharge comes under pressure and in addition to angst for the week ahead we begin to worry that we haven’t “relaxed enough”...

A vicious circle.

I've seen a lot of tips on how to plan more fun, R&R into your Sundays which I think are definitely helpful but the idea that you really need to be looking at this more holistically makes sense to me.

Things like:

  • Acknowledging how you're feeling. Pay attention to the thoughts you’re having with to see if you can pinpoint whats triggering them.

  • Spreading essential “life maintenance” activities (food shopping, laundry etc) through the week rather than defaulting them to Sunday.

  • Looking at the timing of doing “weekly planning/to-do list etc”... Some people like Sunday evenings for this to set yourself up for the week, I guess the logic being you get it out of your head and then you can relax more. Personally I just find it makes things worse!! Maybe something to experiment with… perhaps try Friday afternoon for weekly planning?

  • Taking a look at Monday’s - are there things you can do that make it feel better/give you something to look forward to? Gym or walking first thing Monday morning for example?

  • Taking a close look at your boundaries between work and the rest of your life. That's a whole topic in itself... maybe my next blog!?... in the meantime a good article if you're interested was published earlier this year in the Irish Examiner "Is this the end of the weekend as we know it?"

One big question that is probably the elephant in the room for a lot of people : Does persistent "Sunday Scaries" mean you are in the wrong job? Apparently it's usually not the case (80% of us in the wrong jobs?!) but of course it can’t be ruled out.

If you’ve tried everything else - including looking really closely at your boundaries - this is probably what's left to explore. I’ve worked with two women in the last year where this was the case - both decided to make a change in favour of roles that offered more flexibility.

If you’re feeling like this is an area where you’re struggling consistently please feel free to contact me. It's an area I’m very familiar with and would be happy to help you brainstorm around. I also know other coaches with specialties around the career-change aspects that may be able to help.

In the meantime ... it's Monday and I hope it went better than you thought it would this time yesterday x

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