We’ve all been there: You get home from Sunday brunch and all of a sudden you’re hit with a pang of anxiety. You start to think about the week ahead, and from there you begin to spiral. (And if you consumed a little too much alcohol over the weekend, then that anxiety is likely heightened.) You worry about all of the work that you have to do tomorrow, the obligations that you have to fulfill, and the stress that comes along with the new week. Enter, Sunday scaries.
Maybe you’ve only experienced them when you’re hungover, or maybe it’s something that occurs weekly for you. Regardless, there are ways to get rid of that looming cloud of anxiety for good. For some insight on how to prevent the Sunday scaries, we consulted Carmen Harra, PhD, a psychologist and certified relationship expert who’s worked with the likes of Hillary Clinton, Jennifer Lopez, and Barbara Walters. If she can help these high-profile personalities work through their issues, I’m confident she can help us put an end to our Sunday scaries.
What are the Sunday scaries?
The Sunday scaries describe the anxiety many people feel on Sundays over having to return to work, school, or their weekly routines the following day. “It’s an overwhelming feeling of discomfort or dread that many of us share, particularly if we dislike our job, classes, or the people we have to be around during the week,” Dr. Harra shares. “We can also experience the Sunday scaries if we feel inadequately prepared to face the challenges of the coming week.” If you’ve never experienced such a feeling, then consider yourself lucky.
HOW CAN YOU STOP Them From Overwhelming You?
According to Dr. Harra, the trick is to stop the oncoming anxieties in their tracks. “It’s important to not indulge in fear or wallow in despair. Feeding your emotions creates a neural pathway for them in your brain, so that whatever you’re feeling, you’ll continue to feel,” she advises.
The key is to train yourself to concentrate on something positive whenever negative thoughts start looming. Dr. Harra suggests think of an event that you’re looking forward to or something positive that happened over the weekend. You can also imagine the prospect of something going in your favor this week. “You can discipline your mind to engage positive thoughts and repel negative scenarios,” she shares.
Tips to Overcome the Sunday Scaries
So, the Sunday Scaries hit you like a ton of bricks. Now how can you cope?
Breathe and Stay Grounded
First, you can perform stress-reducing exercises to ground yourself. Dr. Harra suggests the following: Close your eyes and take several deep, slow, calming breaths. Try not to think about what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow. Instead, align yourself with the present.
Focus on your body: How do you feel? Are your muscles tense? Does your back hurt? Sit straight and roll your shoulders in slow movements, releasing any physical tension you might feel. Stretch your muscles and feel your body elongating. Smell the air around you, listen to the sounds you hear, touch an object within reach and notice it’s texture. These elements contribute to grounding, which helps you tune into the present moment.
Next, staying organized is a major force in warding off the Sunday scaries. Making to-do lists and organizing your activities, whether in your phone or a notebook, will help you manage your time and prioritize your tasks. Ultimately, it’ll lead to less stress.
Be Easy on Yourself
Finally, cut yourself some slack. Remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can, and you shouldn’t feel guilty for taking it easy over the weekend. “So what if you didn’t get a million things done? They can wait; your emotional harmony and mental well-being come first,” Dr. Harra reminds us.
How to Prevent Them from Happening in the First Place
When you program yourself to remember that you don’t have to face every daunting task at once, then you’ll see that the Sunday scaries will arise less often. Yes, you’ll still have to take that test or attend that meeting you’re dreading. But it’s crucial to remember that each task will happen one moment at a time—and then it’s done.
“Understand the fact that you won’t have to face everything at all once,” Dr. Harra shares. “The secret is to regain control of the things that threaten to take control of you. It begins in the mind and translates into the real world.”
Essentially, the key is to reprogram your mindset to welcome all things as they come. Then, even when negative thoughts start to creep in, remind yourself to think of positively. “Welcome your Monday and the challenges that’ll accompany it, knowing that you’re greater than them,” Dr. Harra advises. “Embrace what’s to come, and you’ll be able to conquer it.”