Sunday Scaries and Your Mental Health
Imagine this-you are having a great Saturday full of fun with your friends and family. You go to sleep being full of gratitude. You wake up in the morning and Bam! It hits you, you have a whole new week ahead of you with tasks, obligations and the end of weekend flexibility. You're not looking forward to it and it feels daunting. This spooky season, we would like to talk about something that scares many of us, the Sunday Scaries! Dun, dun, dun.
According to a LinkedIn survey, 1 in 3 professionals feel the Sunday Scaries each week Anyone can experience the Sunday Scaries; parents, anticipating a long week with their kids, students watching due dates approach, and professionals considering their rigorous work tasks. Sometimes the anxiety can feel paralyzing and prevents us from relaxing or practicing self-care that is needed to start the week.
What should you do if you find yourself dreading the upcoming week? As therapists, we have a few suggestions. To face the work week, it is helpful to be mindful, validating, strategic, intentional, and compassionate.
According to Mindful.org, mindfulness is "the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we're doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what's going on around us." When you think about the week, what thoughts are coming up? Did you notice, any wants, needs, or challenges? There are times when things are outside of our awareness, and can't be changed or prepared for. Being mindful of our thoughts means we are creating space to let spontaneous thoughts and feelings come and go without judgment. The meditation app Headspace, compares being mindful to watching the clouds in the sky. This mindfulness (or mindful practice) helps alleviate the Sunday Scaries by grounding you enough to make plans for the week. Scientifically speaking, the American Psychological association (APA) found that "mindfulness influences two different stress pathways in the brain, changing brain structures and activity in regions associated with attention and emotion regulation." So being mindful on a regular basis can decrease our stress levels.
Try to validate the feelings and thoughts that come up with the Sunday Scaries. Maybe you thought to yourself the week ahead feels scary. You can start by validating this fear, dread, or worry. Sometimes the week can feel intense and you have reasons why you feel this way. If we had a choice in the matter, we all may abandon our duties and run to sit on the beach. While the upcoming week may seem daunting or intimidating, there can be comfort in knowing we have felt like this on previous Sundays and somehow we survived. Chances are, we will survive another week, even if it feels difficult.
Think about your priorities for the week. Are there any areas of concern for you? What are your wants and needs? Is there a doctor's appointment that you have been putting off? Are you overdue for a friend hangout? Has your laundry been piling up for an undisclosed amount of time? Bringing these things to mind, can help you figure out a plan to at least initiate some of these tasks.
Set an intention or mantra for the week, and ensure its practical for you to commit to it on a consistent basis. Our intention is a guideline for our goals and priorities to tell us how we can prioritize them or what is most important to us. For example, you can set intentions for how you want to feel, how you will evaluate productivity- socially, professionally, or in your relationships. Setting clear intentions will set you up for success to have a peaceful week.
Radical acceptance and compassion
Now, we want to provide ourselves with radical acceptance and compassion. Remember that your best is good enough this week. You are not your labor. You are a human before you are a worker or a provider. Think about how you can tend to your humanity. Maybe some things can be adjusted or removed as needed this week. Your capacity is important for your self-preservation. Relentless ambition can cause burnout, but if you remain intentional and present, compassionate care will allow you to meet your intentions each week.
Here are some questions to help you consider your Sunday Scaries:
What would make this week more enjoyable?
How could changing my self talk improve the week?
What kind of self-regulation would be helpful for me?
How can you radically except yourself as you travel through this week?