Overcome the Sunday Scaries With These 7 Night-time Rituals
For many people, work-related feelings of anxiety are part and parcel of modern life. No matter the kind of work you do—shift work, casual work, freelance work, or a classic 9 to 5—those feelings are generally the same. And for the 9 to 5 crowd, they set in at roughly the same time week after week.
Picture this: it's Sunday afternoon. Tomorrow is Monday. Back to work. Back to "reality". You start to assess your weekend: Were you successful? Did you use your time productively? Did you relax sufficiently? Did you complete your errands or will you need to somehow squeeze them in during the week? Did you watch too much Netflix? Not enough? There are just so many days (five) until next weekend. That's forever away. There will never be as much time until next weekend as there is right now.
Now you have butterflies. And not the romantic kind. These flutters in the pit of your stomach are decidedly darksided, sent by a demon from hell whose name is Work. You're growing more restless by the second, more irritable, and a vague sense of unease rises until you're catatonic and doomscrolling on the couch while Selling Sunset plays in the background. Does Chrishell ever feel like this? Probably not, you think.
Welcome to the Sunday scaries, a common form of anticipatory anxiety that can contribute to the exhausting monotony that can cause burnout and just generally be a real downer. In The Atlantic earlier this year, 28-year-old marketing manager Erin Thibeau described the feeling perfectly: "low-grade existential dread". It can feel like the end of the world and just part of the weekly grind at the same time. The sense of possibility that the weekend, or a holiday, or any sanctioned time of work can offer? Gone. The easy, breezy, beautiful version of yourself that surfaces at 5:01 every Friday? She's dead now. At least for the next five days, which you're sure will feel like five years.
It's a privilege afforded to anyone with a stable income, but the effects are real. According to London-based psychologist Dr Perpetua Neo, it's about the law of inertia. "Switching over from a weekend to the tedium of a weekday is an effort," she told Future Women. "This is especially so if your job is highly stressful or lacks meaning. If you feel trapped in your job (not your choice, you need it or your life collapses like a house of cards), then you may feel you lack autonomy."
Know that you're not alone, and that establishing a Sunday night routine could help you to ease some of the worry that prevents what could otherwise be one of the most enjoyable, regenerative parts of the weekend. The goal is to overcome feelings of anxiety, not simply to tolerate it. Here are seven night-time rituals that could help you overcome the Sunday scaries on any day of the week.
Ritual #1: Organise
Getting organised can help you feel—and be—more in control of the week ahead. Writing things down can help you to get out of your own head. So, grab your journal, light some incense, press play on a 30-minute playlist (with the repeat function disabled) a piece of paper and pen, and write a list of intentions for the week ahead. Make them things you can realistically commit to—by overcommitting you'll end up exhausted by the week's end and more likely to make poor decisions (spending too much, drinking too much, only eating treats, et al). Make the list practical, but make it balanced: work, self, family, friends, house. Any birthdays coming up? Commit to calling to say Happy Birthday. Haven't spoken to your grandma in a while? Commit to calling her on one of your lunch-breaks. Speaking of, commit to actually taking a lunch-break. Once the playlist has finished, finish up and then go do something else.
Ritual #2: Clean
Tale as old as time. Cleaning is a popular go-to activity during bouts of anxiety as it can help you to feel more in control. Without getting carried away, consider doing an extra spot of cleaning on Sundays. Once you've vacuumed and changed your sheets, or whatever it is that you normally do, choose another part of your home to focus on. Maybe it's a fridge clean, maybe it's a couch vacuum, or maybe it's a beauty cabinet detox. Whatever it is, it will help make your Sunday a little less scary and your home a little more pleasant to be in.
Ritual #3: Move
Take a sunset walk around the block with your dog, housemate, partner—or yourself. Try leaving your phone at home and use the time to notice the sights, sounds and smells around you as you stroll gently. Or, call a friend while you walk—preferably one happy to vent with you. And if you're worried about anything specific at work, or elsewhere, talk about it with them. When you get home, you might feel lighter and more relaxed than you did before.
Ritual #4: Fuel
It's possible you've eaten take-away more than once the past few days. On Sunday nights, get into the habit of making dinner at home. More importantly, get into the habit of eating more mindfully. For many people, this means a meal with lots of different vegetables and wholegrains. If cooking it yourself feels overwhelming and you can afford one more delivery, opt for something both delicious and healthy (rather than just delicious). No matter what, just make sure to eat something healthy for your Sunday dinner. It's a great way to reset, especially if you've been particularly relaxed about what you eat over the weekend.
Ritual #5: Meditate
Many people find that meditation can help to interrupt the thoughts that tend to race during moments of anxiety. If you're a seasoned meditator, you'll know exactly what to do. If you're a beginner, try this Headspace Sunday Scaries mini-meditation.
Ritual #6: Bathe
Blessed with a bathtub? Sunday night is the perfect time to make use of it. The ritual of bathing can be a powerful way to recharge and relax. Leave your phone outside and bring a book instead. Give yourself the full spa experience with a clay mask and a hair treatment, and try to park your worries to the side, at least until you're finished luxuriating.
Ritual #7: Breathe
Closer to bed time, try a breathing exercise to help you ease into a state of relaxation. The 4-7-8 breathing technique is based in traditional breath control practiced in yoga. Inhale for four counts, hold your breath for seven counts, then exhale for eight. While you drift to sleep, know that your new Sunday night routine could end up improving your entire week.
Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.