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Sunday Scaries: How to Deal With the Fear of Going to Work

Rachel Sharpe

The dread of the upcoming work week can cause chaos on Sunday night. The Sunday scaries are a real phenomenon to describe the fear of going to work the next day. With Sunday being the last day of freedom on your weekend it’s common to have panic attacks and anxiety about going back to work on Monday. However, if you notice you’re having the Sunday scaries multiple weeks in a row, it’s time to make a big change. In this article, we’ll share what the Sunday scaries are, why we experience them, and how to deal with the fear of going to work. 

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What are Sunday scaries?

Sunday scaries are the feeling of anxiety you feel on Sunday before the workweek begins. It typically begins on Sunday afternoon and carries onto the evening. It’s most commonly experienced by people who work in toxic environments or are led by toxic managers. It could also be from the stress of working with toxic co-workers. If you’re experiencing Sunday Scaries, it’s safe to say that there are some unpleasant people you work with during the work week.

Why do we experience the Sunday scaries?

People often experience Sunday anxiety because they’re dreading the upcoming work week. Whether it’s having to work with difficult coworkers or a toxic manager, stressful work projects, a recent negative performance review, or any other stressful work situation. The Sunday scaries typically occur when people don’t want to deal with work stress because it’s leaving them feeling overwhelmed. The weekends are typically two days allotted to your freedom from work. They often feel short-lived. The lack of freedom caused by needing to wake up early, have your days planned for you, and working with people you didn’t choose can cause a lot of anxiety on Sundays.

Plus, it can be challenging to work through recessions, high inflation, and other external factors that put more pressure on team members to perform. And when you throw in regular company-wide layoffs, there’s a certain unsteadiness that appears that makes work-life more challenging. Remember, if something was abusive all the time, you’d just quit and call it a day. However, if something is sometimes positive and sometimes negative, there’s a level of unsteadiness that makes the stress even more chaotic. You never know what your day will bring you which causes more discomfort and stress.

How to Deal with the Sunday Scaries

1. Practice Meditation

If you’re feeling anxious Sunday night about the week ahead of you, consider following along to a guided meditation for anxiety. You could also try a quick ten-minute meditation on Monday morning each week as you try to put yourself in a positive mood. Adding meditation to your to do list every Sunday evening will help you fall asleep faster instead of staying up late worrying about Monday morning. However, it’ll also help you live in the moment where it’s still the weekend.

Meditation is a great way to deal with Sunday night anxiety because it helps you calm the mind. Your thoughts might be going a million miles a minute stressing about the workweek ahead, but when you practice meditation you can learn how to deal with negative thoughts. Plus, if you’re overthinking about work stress, meditation can calm you down so you can think logically and make a better decision, such as switching teams, finding a new job, or taking a leave of absence.

2. Apply to another job

Sunday evenings shouldn’t be stressful. Experiencing the Sunday blues can be a good indicator you’re at the wrong company for yourself. While most people think applying to another job is a last resort, it shouldn’t be. Know your worth. It’s crucial for you to realize that feeling anxiety from Sunday morning until Sunday night isn’t normal.

Anticipatory anxiety about the workweek isn’t a good sign. So, take some time to create your resume and apply to jobs. You can update your LinkedIn profile and open your settings for recruiters to reach out to you about new job postings. No one should feel stressed about something they need to spend 40 hours on every week. When interviewing ask about company culture, get to know your future boss and their leadership style, and make sure the next place you work at is just a great place to work.

3. Build a personal brand

If you don’t think it’s a good time to quit your job just yet, at least set yourself up in a better position. People who build personal brands on social media (think niche influencers) tend to get more opportunities sent their way than anyone else. If you’ve worked in a specific industry for a long time, share industry tips on your personal social media account or on LinkedIn. People will start to turn to you for expert advice, and naturally, you’ll start to get more job opportunities sent to you, instead of you trying to hunt for them yourself. That way, when someone comes along with the right offer, you’re ready for to say goodbye to those Sunday scaries.

4. Build your income streams

Sometimes, when we experience Sunday scaries it’s a sign that we might soon lose our job. You might be afraid of getting fired or laid off. The moment you start to experience Sunday night anxiety, start building out your income streams. You might choose to start a side hustle for evenings and weekends. You could start a business or start freelancing. Investing in stocks, properties, or other assets could be a good idea too. Use your spare time to create your exit plan from the company. That way, in the event that you do lose your job, you’ll be prepared and financially in a good position to take some time to recover from a toxic environment. Having financial stability is crucial when you’re unsure of your position at work.

build income streams

5. Switch teams at work

If you feel a sense of worry or dread at work, it may be a good idea to switch teams, particularly if you have a difficult boss. Schedule a coffee with leaders of other teams to decide if that’s your path forward from the feeling of impending doom. A strategy people often do that helps them successfully transition to other teams is to help other teams with tasks. By helping another team, they can see what team dynamics are like with you and clearly see the quality of your work.

Finding another leader who will take you on doesn’t need to be challenging. Focus on building strong relationships with people in the company to help you network internally. Give people a chance to make their own impression of you before your current boss speaks up. You can get a head start on networking with people immediately. There’s no need to worry if you work for a large corporation, simply apply to internal roles. It’s hard to let go of a well-connected and well-liked person in a company.

6. Have a heartfelt conversation with your team

Sunday scaries set a negative vibe from the people experiencing anxiety on Sunday nights. Feeling anxious all week can make relationships with team members strained. So, if you’re dreading work, it’s time to speak up. Start with the people on your team that you get along with the most. Tell them about how you feel anxious about working instead of looking forward to it. Be honest about the challenges you feel. Speak from your heart instead of your worried mind. Be transparent about your concerns about the job. Since they work in the company with you, ask for advice on how to approach a situation or to better communicate with an individual.

If your company has a therapist or performance coach, you can ask for advice on how to improve communications with your boss. And eventually, when you feel up for it, have the heartfelt conversation with your boss. Discuss how to better support them in their role and add more value for them.

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7. Realize most of your team feels it too

What you’ll likely find after having a heartfelt conversation with your team members is that people will tell you you’re not alone. You might hear someone respond that the culture is toxic or that the company feels like a stressful high school. The upside to this is that you realize you’re not the problem, you’re just sucked into it. The downside to this is that the company you work for isn’t that great. So you need to decide if this is a path you want to stay on. Don’t let self doubt creep in. Find a friend on your team who you can be a cheerleader for and who will cheer you on right back. Give yourself something to look forward to by going out of your way to be kind, helpful, and a team player.

You can’t change a company culture, but you can change a team one. Celebrate birthdays, life milestones, and other fun events any day of the week so you can always look forward to good times. It’s hard to experience anxiety when you’re trying your best to make people happy. Praise your team mates, high five people online or in the hall, remind people why they’re awesome, and just make people feel good. If you do that, Monday won’t seem so bad. You’ll look forward to just getting work done and helping people have a good, stress-free time.

8. Go for a run

Whether it’s a mindful walking meditation or a heart-racing run, the Sunday scaries can be relieved through running. When people experience anxiety, running is proven to be a healthy and effective solution. Centuries ago when our ancestors felt anxiety, it meant that they were in physical danger. So fight or flight would kick in, and they would run. So, if you feel anxious Sunday afternoons (or even during the workweek), add running to your Sunday routine.

It doesn’t need to be a marathon for it to be effective. Even running for twenty minutes can help you get the stress out of your system and feel better. When you know that running can help solve your anxiety, the week ahead becomes manageable because you now have an active tool you can rely on: your body. So add running to your to do list and try it for twenty minutes a day. Soon enough, you’ll be able to reap the benefits that have a positive impact on your mind and body.

beat sunday anxiety

9. Take care of yourself

You need to take care of yourself. Get eight hours of sleep Sunday night, so go to bed earlier than usual. Cut out alcohol or caffeine if you find that make you feel sluggish or worse. People often cope through addictions, such as binge eating, drinking, or smoking. Remember that none of these things helps your brain function at its best. They’re more likely to add to your stress. Take some time to read books or articles about how the brain functions best and learn to optimize your brain so you can be more resilient through these work challenges. If you’re mentally sharp, you’ll be better at making decisions that serve your best interests instead of crippling you.

10. Plan fun activities on Sunday

Instead of worrying and dreading the upcoming work week, schedule fun activities on Sunday instead of chores. Try a yoga class, meet up with a friend, check off the bucket list for your life, relax in a spa, indulge in a treat, go out for lunch or dinner with the spouse, or rest a little bit. If you have an active day on Sunday, you’ll be able to sleep easier at night. With good sleep, Mondays won’t be as much of a drag because you’ll actually be able to pull yourself out of bed for once.

Your friends and family will play a huge role in your weekend happiness. Don’t think about your job on Sunday night. Don’t let the Sunday scaries rob you of your weekend. If possible, do all your chores like grocery shopping and cleaning on Friday night so you can spend Saturdays and Sundays enjoying yourself.

11. Practice self-compassion

A clinical psychologist would tell you that practicing self-compassion is important for overcoming the Sunday scaries. You can try a self-compassion meditation daily until you feel like you’ve got the hang of it. Go for a walk, eat a nutritious meal, or do something nice for yourself to show yourself compassion. Your inner critic is likely the reason you’re not practicing compassion towards yourself. It’s telling you that you’re not good enough and so you beat yourself up thinking what is wrong with me.

A little trick to help you silence negative thoughts about yourself is to do daily acts of kindness for strangers. Everyday, look for opportunities to be kind to people. Make that your mission. It’s impossible to think the problem is you when you’re actively trying to put good out in the world. You can make a difference in so many lives just by doing good deeds. It’s easy to be kind to yourself when you realize how kind you are with others.

12. Try to move your meetings to Tuesdays

If possible, schedule all your work meetings on Tuesdays instead of scattered throughout the week or on Mondays. If you can lump all your work meetings in one day, you can limit the contact you have with toxic team members and just chill doing the work. That way, Monday morning will be easier because you won’t have to talk to anyone. You’ll be able to just do your work. It helps ease you into the work week a bit. The weekend won’t involve dreading Monday because you can just quietly work on tasks with as little interaction with others as possible. Use Monday to catch up on work, come up with new ideas, get rid of anxiety head on. Talk to people on Tuesday and it’ll allow you to relax more on the weekend.

13. Take a leave of absence

A leave of absence is an extended leave from your work that may be covered depending on what your insurance policy is but with reduced pay. During a leave of absence, you’ll be able to take a break from work to focus on yourself. You can use this leave to apply to jobs so you can leave the company or to give yourself some space mentally from the stress of a difficult team or project. The Sunday scaries could return if you end up going back to the exact same situation as before. So use your leave of absence to build yourself up and come up with solutions that’ll help you in the long run.

14. Try deep breathing exercises

When we feel anxious, we tend to do shallow breathing. You can quickly reset your anxiety levels by doing deeper breathing exercises. Take some time to breathe in and out to the bottom of your lungs. So fill up your lungs fully and release fully. Anxiety will lessen after doing these multiple times. Plus, it won’t look weird if you start doing breathing exercises during a stressful moment at work. So, you can fit this into your work day before having a difficult meeting or after one.

15. Listen to uplifting music

When you need to relax on Sunday night, listen to positive songs. This isn’t the time to play songs about depression even if you feel sad. However, if you’re feeling anxious, you could listen to songs about anxiety too. Try not to make yourself feel lower with the type of music you listen to. You don’t want to trigger yourself before the work week starts. The goal should be to relax you and prepare you for the upcoming week. You deserve to have an enjoyable weekend if your work week stresses you out, so aim to listen to things that make you feel good.

16. Go to the office more

Typically, when we feel anxious about work, we avoid work more often. However, we typically like people we interact with in person more than those we work with remotely. Think about how close you are to people you’ve enjoyed spending time with. People like familiar things. If you work remotely most of the week and avoid in person interaction, it’s only natural for an us-vs-them mentality to arise in conflict at work. However, if you engage with coworkers in person and humanize one another, naturally things start to ease up. Resist your temptation to avoid and minimize interaction.

Conclusion

The past decade so many people have been experiencing the Sunday scaries and it continues to rise. Saturday shouldn’t be the only day of the week that you enjoy. The office doesn’t need to be a scary place. It can be a place where you learn, grow, and make money to support your passions and lifestyle. Using a combination of the tactics above you can manage the stress that the work week brings. Treat yourself to something fun this weekend. Or treat yourself by applying to a new job. Either way, your happiness is still in your control. So, what’s your next move?

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