Top 10 tips for stopping the ‘Sunday Scaries’


Mondays are a drag, right? They don’t have to be with a little help from these top 10 tips to avoid the “Sunday Scaries.”

With fall fast approaching, slower summer schedules soon will be replaced by the busy back-to-school season. And when you balance work with home life, weekends can feel fleeting. Saturdays seem so short that by the time Sunday rolls around, you may be experiencing what many call the “Sunday Scaries.” It’s a real deal according to professor Steven Meyers from Roosevelt University in Chicago, who calls it a form of “anticipatory anxiety” with all of those concerns creeping in about the upcoming week. Prolonged anxiety can lead to unhealthy chronic stress, which increases your risk of health issues like heart diseases, digestive issues, trouble sleeping and more.

If you feel the “Sunday Scaries” coming on as you look forward to a busy week, try these 10 tips to help fend them off. 

1. Schedule some Sunday self-care

What fills your bucket on any other day of the week? Is it time for exercise like yoga or a mind-clearing jog? Quality time with a loved one or good friend? Catching a movie or trying that new restaurant across town? Plan something for Sunday that’s just for your own self-care to help you refresh and re-energize your mood for the coming week.

2. Add in some active leisure

Sitting around on Sunday moping about Monday won’t help anyone, so get moving. Experts say even 10 to 15 minutes of walking has immediate benefits. Getting up and doing anything that gets you active — from kayaking to tossing a Frisbee — keeps you engaged and doesn’t allow your mind to worry about the workweek.

3. How about healthy distractions?

Mental health experts say feelings of anxiety are more common when you’re not busy. So enjoyable and healthy activities that redirect your attention can distract you. Been wanting to read that new book? Learn an instrument? Does the garden need weeding or watering? Or maybe a regular Sunday afternoon card game with family or friends can become your new norm. Whatever your distraction, it can help fend off fretting about next week.

4. Brunch better. And hydrate

Is a post-church or late-morning brunch something you enjoy on Sundays? If it’s too heavy on carbs, you really risk a crash later in the day — which can leave you feeling tired and down. Instead, eat healthy throughout the day with a balanced mix of protein and fiber. And if you truly can’t live without Sunday morning pancakes, try healthier options

As for drinking, while alcohol can numb the notion of a busy Monday looming, water is your better option. Getting enough H2O is important every day but especially following a night or two of one-too-many adult beverages. Make Sunday a day of cleansing with water. Start with a glass when you awake, then munch on water-rich foods like fruits and vegetables. Keep a large bottle of water to sip on throughout the day. By Monday morning, you’ll feel refreshed and ready to face your week.

5. Detox from digital

It’s easy to jump start on emails or scroll news feeds on Sunday, but too much tech can amp up your anxiety. Experts recommend going back to simpler times when people used to use weekends to relax and regroup. Try to shut off your phone, stop checking your email and refrain from scrolling through social media. Don’t let too many pre-Monday communications ramp up your stress so you can start the week fresh.

6. Treat yourself to something nice

You’ve made it to the seventh day of the week, so why not celebrate the chance to start new? If your budget is in good shape and you could use a new shirt or pair of shoes, let Sunday be the day you treat yourself. But it doesn’t have to mean a shopping spree or spending money at all. Maybe you save Sunday to prepare your favorite meal or set aside time to watch the sunset. Whatever it is, make sure it feels like a true treat to you.

7. Clean up

Remember the feeling of new school supplies and a shiny new, organized backpack for the first day of school? That’s the way starting your week should feel. Even if you don’t love cleaning, it can make you less anxious. One effective way to take great care of yourself is to design an ideal indoor environment. This means eliminating tolerations and letting go of things that no longer serve you well. Putting on some music and organizing your space can bring you back to the present, instead of fretting about the future.

8. Write out your worries

If you’ve tried all your top tools and still can’t stop thinking about the week ahead, write it out. Putting down your thoughts on paper can be a way to move past them. Experts say writing can be cathartic, meaning you flush thoughts out of your system once they’re down on paper. You also can journal as a way to get at the true source of your stress. Jot down the benefits of your job and what you like about it. Make a list of what you’re grateful for when it comes to your income and what it means for you and your quality of life. What projects are you excited about or who brings you joy at work? Who lifts you up in the workplace? Write it all down and review.

9. Meditate for Monday

Quiet your mind and end your Sunday with a few moments of meditation — an effective way to quickly reduce feelings of anxiety. Meditation is an exercise for the mind, body and spirit, and it has a slew of health benefits. From decreasing mental clutter and improving sleep habits to easing chronic pain or depression, meditation can help.

10. Make time for a Monday mood lifter

Instead of dreading Monday every Sunday, flip things around and find something to look forward to the next day. Schedule something fun, whether that’s an exercise class or a walking lunch date. To make it even better, opt for going social instead of solo since research shows friends are good for your health. Making fun plans with your pals for Monday or even Tuesday extends those “feel-good” weekend vibes well into the workweek. 

So, remember, the next time you feel yourself fretting about Monday during your weekend, remember these top 10 ways to help ax the anxiety. Don’t dread the upcoming workweek. Keep these tips in your toolbox to turn the “Sunday Scaries” into “Sunday Fundays.”

Angela Horjus, NBC-HWC, NASM-CPT, FLT-LE, is among the first national board-certified health and wellness coaches at Priority Health and in the U.S. She works with members to help them develop a personalized plan for their own health and well-being based on what is realistic and beneficial. Horjus currently is working on her American College of Lifestyle Medicine certification.

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