Sunday Night Syndrome Is A Very Real Cause of Anxiety for Many

Its 7pm on a Sunday evening, the weekend is almost over. A wave of anxiety washes over you. Thoughts shift to Monday morning and the start of another week. You become snappy, impatient, even frustrated, because you know you should be relaxing and enjoying the rest of the weekend, not worrying about work.

You start watching the clock, calculating how much time you have left before going to bed, which you dread because you know you will struggle to go to sleep. Stress and anxiousness form a knot in your stomach.

Sound familiar?

It is said that the fear of being hit is worse than actually being hit. It is the same principle that makes Sunday evening a challenge. When you are at work, you can deal with any issues that crop up, but at home on a Sunday evening, your mind is at work, but physically you are at home and you feel powerless in the face of the events you are predicting for the week ahead.

Here are 5 tips for overcoming Sunday Night Syndrome:

1. Close the Week

Before you leave work on a Friday evening give some thought to the week ahead. Make out your ‘to do’ list for the following week, so you are not trying to remember tasks over the weekend. This serves a dual purpose, it closes the week, but it also means you know what to your priorities are when you arrive in work on Monday morning.

2. Plan Your Weekend A Little Better

It is easy just to ‘go with the flow at the weekend,’ but from my experience weekends are more rewarding and somehow longer, when specific plans are made. I love the phrase ‘let organisation and planning be your springboard, but let fun and spontaneity be your splash!’Unless you have specific activities to occupy your mind, work-related stuff will usually fill the vacuum.

3. Gratitude

When we think about it, there are millions of people in the world who would love to have the luxury of having ‘Sunday night syndrome.’ Gratitude is an antidote to many negative emotions. For example, it is difficult to be grateful and anxious at the same time. When the Sunday evening blues kick in, make a list (mental or written) about everything you are grateful for.

4. Managing the Symptoms of Stress

Sunday Night Syndrome is a manifestation of the stress in your life. Stress is always a symptom. What are the causes of stress for you? When we are stressed we breathe high and fast in our chests. Consciously lower and slow down your breathing. Perhaps consider having a relaxing bath on Sunday evening, it will also help you sleep.

5. The Real Underlying Issue!

For many people the dread of Monday morning is a reminder that another week has passed and they still feel trapped in a job which at best they tolerate. When we feel ‘stuck’ we usually know deep down what we should do, but we lack the courage to take even the baby steps required to explore other options. Sunday night is the time of the week when we are reminded that our working lives are not what we hoped they would be. It is the time of the week when we feel trapped in a vicious cycle and with every passing week, the thinking ‘better the devil you know’ further calcifies our comfort zone into a rut.

With this thinking in mind, here are some questions worth pondering-

  1. What would have to happen for you to feel excited about the week ahead?
  2. What would you be doing, if you couldn’t wait for Monday morning to come around?
  3. What would your ideal working week look like?
  4. If you weren’t afraid, or knew you couldn’t fail, what would you do?

People often over-estimate what they can do in a short period of time, but dramatically under-estimate what they can achieve over a longer time period. If you set yourself the goal of curing yourself of the ‘Sunday Night Syndrome’ over the next two years, what would your blueprint for change look like?

I recently came across this poem by the American writer Ellen Goodman. It packs a punch.

“Normal is getting dressed
in clothes you buy for work
and driving through traffic in a car
that you are still paying for –
in order to get to the job you need
to pay for the clothes and the car
and the house you leave vacant all day
so you can afford to live in it.”
Ellen Goodman

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