Sunday Night Blues

For most of us Fridays are great, aren’t they? I mean, it’s the last day of the Monday to Friday working week and the next few days are what we’ve mostly been looking forward. The weekend. Yet, when Sunday afternoon arrives, instead of enjoying time with family, friends, your significant other, or beloved pets, you might find these thoughts racing through your mind. It’s called the Sunday Night Blues, often starting with:

“Ugh…I don’t like Mondays”, then …

“What meetings do I have coming up?”

“What deadlines are looming?”

“What time do I need to wake up for that morning meeting?”

If any of this, and more, sounds familiar, you are not alone.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified stress as the health epidemic of the 21st century. Research indicates that job stress is the main source of stress for American adults and has been increasing over the past few decades. A report by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found that 40% of workers described their jobs as very or extremely stressful, and 25% identified their jobs as the primary source of stress in their lives. So, it’s no surprise that we’re seeing a phenomenon called the Sunday night blues; anxiety you feel on Sunday when thinking about the upcoming week. I’m not sure if it’s good to know or not but it’s not just in your head. According to a poll by Monster, 76% of Americans report having “really bad” Sunday night blues. If you identify with this then here are some things you might do to overcome that Sunday evening feeling of anxiety so you can truly enjoy your well-earned weekend, and get a good night of sleep to be refreshed as you face Monday enthusiastically. 

1. Plan a fun activity

While it may sound relaxing to sit around the house lying on the sofa, it’s here where those unsettling thoughts are more likely to creep in. What is better for you is to plan a fun activity to keep your focus on something positive. Spend time on your favourite hobby, go to the cinema, enjoy the outdoors, or have drinks with friends. (NB, I don’t want to be a kill joy here but more than a couple of beers is going to negatively affect the quality of your sleep later, so go easy) Plan a weekend getaway. A little bit of Self-Awareness here goes a long way. Notice when you start feeling anxious so you can schedule activities to look forward to.

2. Disconnect from email

Ha! I know, I know. Just because your boss is on email doesn’t mean you have to be.  Really, it’s true. Re read that last bit and let it sink in. Their time and demand is not your time, especially at the weekend. If you start responding to work emails on Sunday evening, your manager will come to expect it. Remember, we all train others how to treat us. If answering emails winds you up, stop it! Instead, set a precedent of checking emails during the week, leaving weekends for personal activities. Truly understand what your values are, what is important to you and establish boundaries and stick to them. If you take time to recharge over the weekend, your Sunday night sleep will be better and your Monday morning will be much more productive.

3. Plan for the week ahead

How can you possibly disconnect from email, you ask? Try planning your week in advance. Set aside time on Friday afternoon to establish goals and deadlines for the upcoming week. Clear out your inbox so you can start fresh on Monday. I k now, happy days but my email inbox is never empty. You can even draft emails and schedule them to be sent later. By organising your thoughts, getting them out of your head and into and captured in a plan for next week, and preparing for upcoming meetings, you will be taking a massive step towards setting yourself up for a good weekend.

4. Practise mindfulness techniques

Don’t skip this bit. This really isn’t “west coast fluffy nonsense”. By practicing mindfulness we develop the habit of living in the present rather than the future. Anxiety is a fear of a yet to happen event AND as you embrace your anxious thoughts you’ll no doubt realise that you are focusing on all the things that you don’t want to happen. When anxiety shows ups embrace it and see it as a warning from your subconscious mind to focus on all the things that you would like to happen. For now though…back to being in the present moment. Here are some simple meditation exercises from the Mayo Clinic that can help prepare you for a successful workweek:

Do a body scan meditation. Lie on your back with your legs extended and arms at your sides, palms facing up. Slowly and deliberately focus your attention on each part of your body, from toes to head or head to toes. Be aware of any sensations, emotions, or thoughts associated with each part of your body. If there is any tension in any part of your body also that part to relax before moving on.

Have a go at a sitting meditation. For this, sit comfortably with your back straight, feet flat on the floor, and hands in your lap. Breathe through your nose and focus on your breath moving in and out of your body. If physical sensations or thoughts interrupt you, acknowledge them and then return your focus to your breath.

You can switch off by going for a walk. Find a quiet place (preferably outside in nature) and walk slowly. Focus on the experience of walking, being aware of the sensations of standing and the subtle movements that keep your balance. Feel the ground beneath you, the temperature of the air on your skin, the sounds of nature or distant planes and then stop and focus on the silence in between the sounds.  Focus on being in the present moment.

5. Ask yourself, am I actually in thge right job?

For most of us one or more of the offerings above will have a positive effect on your Sunday evenings. For others though the “treatment” might need to be a bit tougher. If you suffer from extreme Sunday night blues, it might be a sign that you need a new job or even a career change. Start by examining why you feel this dread. Do you feel stuck in your job? Are you overwhelmed by your workload? Is your boss difficult to work for? Are you being bullied by a colleague? Make a list of what might be triggering your sadness or depression. It is an understated fact that the culture off the organisation you are working in has a massive impact on your well-being. Once you understand the root of your distress, you can take action. It might even be time to consider starting your own business to enjoy the freedom, flexibility, and fulfilment of being your own boss.

Whether you change your mindset or your career, it is possible to look forward to Mondays. Don’t settle. Time is precious, and every day you wake up is a gift. Make it count!

Image by freepik