Experiencing Emotions,  I Know This...Wait...I Don't

Take Back Your Sunday: 3 Simple Steps To Squashing That End Of The Weekend Anxiety


There are times when Sunday afternoon can feel like the end of freedom. It’s not that we have had total autonomy over the weekends.
I mean let’s be real, if we did there would be far fewer baby/wedding shower gifts purchased and many more hours of Netflix consumed! However, for many people, the weekend represents a 48 hour period where they are free of the office politics, dress codes, inhabitants (otherwise known as co-workers), overlords (otherwise known as bosses), and the pace of the workday. Even if your weekend is filled with errands and housework there is usually still a feeling of freedom that you just don’t have on weekdays (if you work a typical Monday to Friday job).  It makes total sense then, that 76% of people surveyed in a 2016 Monster survey reported experiencing the “Sunday blues”.
 
Interestingly, these feelings of anxiety are so deeply routed in North Americans that even people who do not work a typical work week report experiencing feelings of sadness on Sundays. An article on Health.com suggests that these feeling may be something of a sense memory, left over from childhood where we felt sadness about leaving our closer knit family units to return to the less supportive environment of school. Beyond that, the article also highlights the connection between going back to work and the basic aversion we humans have with change and structure. The mere thought of having to conform to the structure of the Monday to Friday workweek is enough to send some people into an anxious state.
 
All of this to say something you probably already know, which is, that blah/sick/bad feeling you have on Sundays isn’t in your head. It’s real. It’s a full on, body permeating emotion. When you feel this way, remember that you are not alone, and that you can, with relative ease, take some simple steps to feel better and take back you Sunday
 
Recognize the Blues For What They Are
 
Just because you are experiencing this emotion, doesn’t mean that you have had a bad weekend, are a bad employee, or that you hate your job. It’s likely that you are part of the vast majority of people who are simply experiencing this less than stellar emotion for the reasons I’ve outlined above. What’s important here is to take the time to pay attention to what is really going on with you. If you find that more often than not, you are experiencing some kind of anxiety related to the weekend ending and the workweek starting, get real with yourself:
 
  • Take 20 minutes and open yourself up to the “blues”. Don’t push them aside. What are the thoughts behind these emotions?
  • Get these thoughts down on paper. Writing out what you are thinking will help you to be honest and to get clear on what is causing this emotional reaction.
  • You may find that you are actually experiencing a combination of negative emotions:
    • Anxiety about tasks and events that are upcoming in the week
    • Guilt about things you didn’t get to over the weekend
    • Envy related to what you see/hear that other people “got to do’ on the weekend
    • Sadness about the weekend (and all the fun) ending
  • Acknowledging the specifics of what you are feeling will help you to release the negative and uncomfortable feelings.
 
It is useful to keep track of this information over time. Doing this will allow you to recognize and celebrate positive changes you’ve made in your life. For example, if you have incorporated a new activity in you life because you found you were envious every time you saw a friend on Facebook doing it – this is fantastic and you should be proud! Monitoring this information will potentially also help you to identify further changes you may wish to make. You may notice that after hanging out with a particular “friend” your Sunday blues are consistently stronger and you may choose to evaluate that friendship. You may find that the anxiety you experience related to Monday at your job is not related to specific tasks or events but to the job itself and this may cause you to do some evaluation in this arena.
 
Have More Fun on Sundays
 
Why is it that by mid afternoon on Sundays we often feel that the whole weekend is  over when on weekdays, it is quite common for activities to begin at 7pm? Stop the blues before they start by spending your Sunday doing things that you like to do. Make Sunday a reward not something to dread. Some things that sound fun to me are:
 
  • Taking a class
  • Scheduling a regular game night
  • Make Sunday date afternoon or night
  • Trying dishes that you don’t normally eat (either going out or cooking them yourself)
  • Making the time from 12pm until you go to bed “unplugged”. I particularly like this because it does two things – it encourages more physical activities AND it keeps you from working!
  • Be in nature or meditate
  • Update your calendar with only things you are looking forward to doing during the week
  • You get the point. Obviously there are about 1000 other things I could list here. Let me know in the comment section what your favourite Sunday activities are?!
 
Use the Other Days to Set Yourself Up For Success  
 
One of the major issues with Sunday is that we may feel that it is a personal day but that it is not really for us or for our families. Anything that didn’t get done during the rest of the week, we may feel we should catch up on or we may feel that we need Sundays to rigorously prepare for the week ahead. By breaking these thought patterns, we start to view Sunday as a day that we have at our disposal for anything we want. Consider:
 
  • Dedicating a few hours on Friday afternoons (because really, how productive are you on Friday afternoons anyway) to planning for the week ahead. This way, you are prepared for Monday and have a better chance of leaving the job when you leave the building.
  • Also – if it’s possible, try not to schedule meetings for Monday mornings. Knowing that you have the morning to get more into the work week at your own pace may help with feelings of anxiety on Sunday.
  • Friday night passive chore night. If you can’t be bothered to brave the cold, heat, crowds, other people, on Friday nights and plan to stay in, why not do things like laundry, shopping list creation and meal planning while you watch TV?
  • Saturday. Sure, Saturdays are typically the busiest and most social days of the week, but perhaps you could take a few hours to do things like homework with the kids, prep for Monday, or other housework. You may find that the time does not feel as stolen because you know that you have at least another whole day before you have to go to work and you can save some of the more fun social interactions for Sunday

We in North America are INCREDIBLY work focused and stress levels are at an all time high. Taking a break over the weekend is important for your health, wealth and productivity. Don’t lose any part of this short 48 hour period to dread and negative feelings if you can avoid it. Let me know how you’ve taken back YOUR Sunday!

Using emotional intelligence, mindfulness, and deep listening practices Akiko offers caring and practical support to free yourself from the toxic, punishing thoughts and emotions that are keeping you stuck, so you can have better relationships with yourself, other people, and to the work you do.

2 Comments

  • Candy G

    Oh, I’m glad you posted this! It’s not like this every Sunday, but on those weekends where we are going all the time or where it’s combined with a stressful workweek, I get the blues.

    To help me, I:
    – have a standing “meeting” blocked off for Monday mornings. It’s with myself. 🙂
    – have a rule where we don’t go anywhere after 2 or 3 pm on Sundays, (movies excluded!). I’m an introvert and I need this time to recharge.
    – don’t do big chores or too many of them in succession. I usually stick to laundry, dinner, downstairs bathroom, downstairs dusting etc.
    – I color, read, play video games, or catch up on Netflix. Just stuff that I’d feel upset if I didn’t get to do. My day to day job is technical, so I like to focus on non-technical things.

    I do like your idea to plan out the next day. I used to do this and then I got “busy”. I will take steps to do this daily to help frame my mind for the next day.

    • atakagi

      Thanks so much Candy. The actions you take to make Sunday (and Monday) better are so good. I’m not at all surprised to see how well you know yourself and how fantastic you are at pro-actively setting your week up to start well! The Monday morning standard meeting is brilliant. The time could be used for many things but for those of us, who’d like to plan for the week but don’t want to do it on the Friday or Sunday, this time could be used to set goals/intentions and plan for the week. What a good way to “get-into” the week!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *