If you’ve experienced the Sunday night anxiety, or ‘the fear’ as I like to call it then you’ll know it’s a horrible place to be. If you’ve never experienced it, honestly what’s your secret? Mid afternoon on Sunday is when it typically sets in for me, and I can be overcome with a feeling of dread (it can vary in strength) about the week ahead. Occasionally, the Sunday night fear (SNF) has been known to be so strong that going to sleep is a struggle – and that’s never a good way to start the week.
I’m lucky that I’ve mostly had a great work-life balance over my career so SNF isn’t something I experience too regularly – perhaps just when I have a big presentation or busy week ahead. However as I’ve touched upon in recent posts, work has been pretty stressful and it’s unfortunately more unusual for me not to have SNF at the moment.
Given I’m still experiencing it at the moment, I’m evidently not a master at avoiding it – but I have come to recognise some small strategies that I can put in place to at least eliminate some of the anxiety – or minimise it’s onset. Knowing what type of weekend I thrive most in is one of the important strategies I’ve put into place –i.e. correlating what I’m doing with when I typically get SNF: Was I seeing friends? Super busy? Having a chilled one? Having a big night out? For me, being hungover, super busy or not having enough of an evening to relax are all big factors in making my SNF more likely. Obviously SNF can still hit even if you’ve had the most blissfully relaxed weekend, but recognising what works best for you is a good place to start.
// Schedule Something Fun
One of the main parts of SNF is that feeling of looming dread, so attempting to overwrite it with something positive is a great way to minimise it’s impact. I don’t find planning something fun for the following week or weekend does enough to really make a difference for me but I imagine this strategy would work for a lot of people. For me, something more long term (i.e. a holiday) is the most likely way I can trick my brain to approach the end of the weekend differently. Suddenly it becomes a countdown to a fun event, and Monday doesn’t seem so bad after all as it’s one step closer to something good.
// Self Care
Alongside getting organised, I like my Sunday evening to take on a slower pace and this is often the time where I’ll schedule a bit of ‘self-care’ into my day. I usually cook my husband and I dinner, whilst chatting on the phone to my parents or sister back in the UK. After dinner, we’ll walk the dogs together (getting outside can really help a mental reset) and then I’ll usually have a bath, read a book or watch some TV to really relax. Scheduling in some time to do something nice for yourself is a great way to add a positive spin to Sunday evening, and not drift into the negative.
// Avoid Booze
I rarely drink so this one doesn’t really apply to me much – but I used to and alcohol was definitely one of my number one triggers for SNF, particularly when I felt like I’d wasted an entire day hungover in bed. When I do have a big night out, my preference is to do them on a Friday night (so I have Saturday to recover), but that’s not always possible. I don’t avoid alcohol because of SNF – my husband and I just aren’t big drinkers anymore (we both had our days, and are now at a different stage in our lives) but if you are and you’re noticing that sense of dread on a Sunday, it may be worth dialing back a bit and seeing if a booze free weekend works for you.
// Get Organised
I’ve mentioned a million times on this blog already, but I’m a creature of habit and I thrive best with a routine – and that’s definitely the case on a Sunday. Sure, my Friday and Saturday night can be spontaneous – but Sunday is basically my least flexible day of the week as I use it to get various jobs done (groceries, cleaning) and generally preparing for the following week. Whilst this may not come as naturally to others as it does to me, spending at least an hour every Sunday getting your life in order (both for work and your personal life) can really make the difference and set you up for success. Getting an early night is also a no brainer!
What are your tips for beating the dreaded Sunday night fear?