Picture this, you’ve just had a nice, relaxing weekend. Maybe you participated in some of your favourite hobbies like reading and painting or maybe you had a well deserved chill out. But now it’s 3pm on Sunday evening and you feel this grey cloud slowing forming over you, a bubbling anxiety forming in the pit of your stomach and worst of all a dire sense of dread. This is what I like to call ‘The Sunday Feels’ also known as Sunday Night Anxiety or the Sunday Blues. You’ve had a great weekend but you start to realise that it’s coming to a close and soon you’ll be faced with early mornings, constant emails and endless zoom meetings.
One poll suggested that over 62% of people suffer with the Sunday Blues and research has suggested that it is also very common for people not sleep well on a Sunday night.
Why Do We Get Sunday Night Anxiety?
Katerina Georgiou suggests that it’s a feeling of the loss of the weekend intertwined with an anticipation between the week ahead. I know this feeling all too well as I usually get a sudden realisation that I haven’t done all of the things that I wanted to do during my free time. I didn’t read, I didn’t blog – all I did was sit and binge watch Buffy and now I’ve only got a short window of time to fulfil my to do endless list.
This feeling is exacerbated if you dislike your job or if you work in a high stress environment. Research suggests that the dread you feel is a pre-emptive warning against possible danger. So in a sense it’s an evolutionary trait to keep us safe.
But what can we do to try and lessen this dread and to help us get a better nights sleep? Here are some tips I try and follow to keep the Sunday night anxiety at bay.
Do the boring stuff on Saturday
We usually leave all the ‘life admin’ tasks until Sunday, whether that’s cleaning the house or doing the washing. As a result, on Sunday we’re left with all the boring tasks on top of the fact that we don’t want to go back to our weekly routine. Instead try and do some, if not all, of the boring tasks on Saturday and plan something fun for Sunday that will help take your mind away from the week ahead.
Be Realistic With Your Weekend To Do List
During the week I don’t want to do anything with my evenings and put everything off to the weekend. By the time Saturday rolls around, I have a to-do list as long as my arm but remember that a long to do list just means more things that you didn’t achieve and more things to get mad about on Sunday night. You may also feel guilty if when the weekend comes you don’t feel like being productive. I say, either ditch the weekend to do list entirely and do what you feel like in the moment OR only schedule in one or two doable tasks. This way on Sunday you wont feel guilty for not doing more and will feel more productive.
Switch up Sunday Night
We all fall into a Sunday night routine that often consists of watching TV, contemplating the week ahead and possibly having an existential crisis (maybe that’s just me). If you plan an activity that you don’t usually do on a Sunday night, it will switch things up and get you out of falling into that same thought pattern. You could try playing a board game (I recommend Carcassone, Settlers of Catan and Sushi Go!), have a long bath whilst reading your book or go for a walk with friends and family.
I find mindfulness particularly useful for when you’re lying in bed on Sunday night thinking about that stupid thing you did back in 2009. Sometimes we can’t get out of our heads when we’re trying to fall asleep. When I’m lying in bed analysing every embarrassing thing I have ever done, I use different mindfulness apps such as Calm and Headspace to help me sleep. The distracting sounds, stories and breathing exercises calm my mind and eventually I feel myself falling asleep. You could also use mindfulness during the day to help try and switch off your anxious mind and to keep those negative thoughts at bay. It takes a little while to get into but be persistent and you will see the benefits.
Plan Your Week Ahead
Sometimes it is useful to make a to do list for the week ahead, plotting out all the goals you need to achieve and tasks you need to complete in your next work week. You could do this on Friday before you finish work or do it over the weekend. This way you don’t need to worry about the week ahead as much because you have a plan of action. If you think of additional tasks when you’re supposed to be enjoying your free time, simply write them down. The act of writing down the things we’re worried about gets them out of your mind and onto your to do list for the next week. This is also useful when you’re trying to sleep and you keep worrying about things. Write it down and it will be there the following day for you to tackle.
If you find yourself next Sunday evening starting to feel anxious try some of these habits to switch off that dread.
I’d love to know your tips for tackling Sunday night anxiety?