Sunday afternoon’s fading into evening, Monday morning is looming, and there’s A Feeling creeping up on you. A low-level but persistent gloom, somewhere between anxiety and dread… Yep, here come the Sunday night blues.
Even amid the pandemic when so many of us are working from home, Sunday night anxiety hasn’t gone away. That’s not surprising when you factor in fears about job security, the stress of parents struggling to balance their own jobs with homeschooling, and the general toll that pandemic life takes on us all.
But what causes the Sunday night blues? Why do you get anxious on Sunday evenings?
…And why are we wasting time worrying about the inevitability of Monday rather than enjoying our precious free time?
That Sunday Evening Feeling
Sunday night anxiety is really a form of negative anticipation. We’re thinking ahead instead of being present in the moment. That’s not always bad: on Fridays we get happy thinking about the weekend that hasn’t begun yet. But on Sundays, all that thinking about Monday morning just removes the pleasure of a weekend that’s not yet over. Being mindful of this is a good start to reclaiming your Sunday and saying goodbye to the Sunday night blues.
How to Beat the Sunday Night Blues
So, time to take your Sunday back and get rid of the Sunday scaries: but how do you start? Begin by recognising that while you may not have control over what happens on Monday, you do have control over how you’re going to spend your precious Sunday – and that can be key to tackling those uneasy feelings before they even start.
Here are 8 practical tips for stopping your Sunday night anxiety in its tracks:
1. End Fridays with Monday in Mind
Got that Friday feeling? Cruising into the weekend feeling excited for the days ahead? Great – but before you head out for the weekend, harness that positive energy and spend a short time leaving things as organised as you can for Monday.
Doing a few simple things on Fridays can greatly reduce the stress of Sunday evening and means you can start fresh on Monday feeling calm and in control. Try some of these:
- Tidy your desk or workstation and leave it ready and prepared
- Leave yourself a clean, new to-do list of tasks and priorities for next week so you can start afresh and know exactly what to do first
- Try not to schedule meetings for Monday mornings so you can start the week at your own pace
- Empty the kids’ school bags and folders and leave them ready for next week
- Check the calendar for next week’s events and do what you can to prepare for them before the weekend
- Working from home? Book your grocery delivery for Fridays and have all the shopping done before the weekend
2. Get your life admin done early in the weekend
Weekends will inevitably involve a certain level of life maintenance, so don’t leave it all until Sunday.
If it all possible, get as much as you can done on Saturday morning. If you can get the laundry, housework, paperwork etc out of the way early in the weekend, the rest of the time is yours to enjoy. You can also enjoy knowing you have all the boring stuff accomplished and not hanging over you.
Most importantly, it will allow you to keep Sundays as fun days, and that can really help to break the negative associations that lead to the Sunday night fear.
3. Move your fun to Sundays
If you normally use at least part of your Sundays for chores and errands, keeping them free of boring stuff will let you enjoy them to the full. Start looking forward to Sunday!
You should definitely begin with the perfect Sunday morning to get your day off to the best start.
After that, try to actively plan something fun for Sundays, whether it’s at home or outside, with friends, family or by yourself.
You could even turn it into a regular thing. Have a little Sunday afternoon ritual that you can look forward to.
4. Stop stressing about whether you’ve “made the most” of your weekend
It’s a common feeling to waste time wondering whether you’ve done enough / achieved enough / had enough fun on your precious days off – but ultimately this way of thinking is just likely to make you dread Monday even more.
Instead, view your weekend for what it is – a couple of days off to recharge. If all you’ve done this past weekend is catch up on the laundry and watch Netflix, then what does it actually matter? Maybe that’s exactly what you needed: some downtime after a busy week.
On the other hand, if you’ve had an action-packed, fun-filled weekend and now you’re feeling guilty that you haven’t caught up on all those home improvements you were planning, then ask yourself if it really matters. Be thankful for the enjoyment you’ve had.
Ultimately, if you can stop feeling guilty about the things you didn’t do this weekend, and are able to appreciate the things you did do, it goes a long way towards allaying that feeling of Sunday night dread about the weekend being over.
5. Do Sunday night right
There’s so much advice out there along the lines of “what to on Sunday night for a productive week”, and for some people that works really well. However, if you’re prone to the Sunday night blues, that method might not be best for you. It might even make you feel like the weekend’s already over, when that’s not the case.
Instead, try front-loading your weekend with the dull stuff (on Saturday morning if you can) and save Sunday night for relaxing and doing something you enjoy. It’s a last chance to stretch out the weekend and make the most of it before the new week starts. Catch up with a friend, go for a walk at dusk, have a family movie night, take a long bath, or start a new book.
If you follow my Instagram, you’ll see I regularly post pictures about #doingsundaynightright .
6. Prioritise your Sunday night sleep
If you’re a parent of young children, you’re probably all too familiar with the concept of staying up late just to get time to yourself after they go to bed, but then ending up exhausted. It’s the same with Sunday night: staying up late in order to put off Monday might feel like you’re winning, but in the end it’s only going to make Monday morning a bit harder.
Additionally, lack of sleep tends only to worsen a vicious circle of increasing anxiety and sleeplessness: not a great start to the week.
Be conscious of your bedtime on Sundays: you could even start going to bed a little earlier on Sunday nights with a magazine or podcast to help you wind down.
7. Improve your Monday
If you still can’t stop the Sunday night blues, try making Monday better. Monday has a pretty bad reputation, but it doesn’t need to be the worst day of the week.
Turning Monday around with a selection of small changes can make you feel better about the start of the week.
- Get up slightly earlier than usual: ten minutes should be enough to accommodate the slower rate many of us move at on Monday mornings
- Have breakfast planned and ready to go so you don’t end up skipping it if you’re running late
- Make a Monday morning playlist of feelgood tunes, either for the shower, the car, or a kitchen disco with the kids (they’ll be up for it even if you’re not)
- Wear your favourite outfit (or if you’re working from home, your favourite top!)
- Plan something enjoyable for your lunch break, even if it’s just a brief walk
- Have a small Monday night reward to look forward to, like a favourite dinner or episode of your favourite TV show
By building more enjoyable things into your day, you can start to anticipate Monday in a positive way, instead of focusing on the negative.
8. If all else fails, make a change
If your Sunday night anxiety is getting worse and becoming a big problem, or it’s starting to creep into more and more of the week, it’s probably time to step back and look at the root causes. If your job is the reason you feel so down on Sunday night, it really might be time for a change. And while change is never easy, it’s got to be better than the huge cloud of dread every week.
Evaluate all the factors and talk to friends and family about it so you can start to plan how you can make a positive change.
I hope this post helps you to take back your Sundays, stop the Sunday night blues in their tracks. Weekends are precious, so don’t let them be over too soon.