Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest, right? But for some of us, it slowly fills with dread as the workweek looms.
Mutiple surverys confirm that more than half us suffer from elevated levels of anxiety on Sunday as Monday comes hurtling down the track like a freight train.
We spoke with therapist Tammy Redmond, of Novant Health Psychiatry – Concord, about strategies and techniques that might help you deal with what have come to be called the “Sunday blues,” or the “Sunday scaries.” Her answers – and app suggestions – may surprise you.
Controlling your mindset
Attitude goes a long way, Redmond said. Unless you have an on-call job, she said, you need to remind yourself to set day-to-day boundaries. In other words, come up with a strategy for fending off the intrusion of thoughts about work. Reclaiming Sunday for yourself, she said, can be reduced to two simple steps: relaxation and distraction.
The idea is to fill your time with things you enjoy, easing your anxiety and distracting you from work thoughts. Indulge in some board or card games, read a book, watch a movie or take in a show. As with most things in life, though, moderation is key. “Don’t burn yourself out Friday through Sunday,” said Redmond. Overdoing the fun can actually make you more anxious on Sunday as you worry about catching up with chores or recovering from long nights on the town.
“You can live your best life without exhausting yourself,” Redmond said. “You’ve earned the weekend. Give it to yourself.”
Put down the phone
The idea of reclaiming your time may seem daunting, especially if you usually spend waking moments thinking about upcoming deadlines and projects. Start small, with minor adjustments to your usual routine to help you build a better mindset.
One suggestion is to unplug. Turn your phone off, place it face down so you don’t see any notifications pop up, even if it’s just for an hour. Small changes matter, said Redmond.
Other small steps can make a huge difference as well. For example, declutter your desk at work. Studies show that a lack of clutter and increased organization lessens work anxiety. Also, make a short task list on Friday of what you need to do on Monday. Leave it on your desk, not your phone, which may give you an anxiety-inducing notifications about your upcoming tasks on Sunday afternoon.
Finally, fit in something fun that will keep you active on the weekend. “I encourage folks to have some form of physical movement or social interaction that will engage or positively stimulate them,” Redmond said. This doesn’t have to be a big deal. It can even be a simple check-in with your partner or dinner with them if your work has kept you away from each other.
Do’s and don’ts
What’s allowable? Laying out clothes for Monday and even doing a bit of food prep for in-office lunches are both fine, said Redmond. Beyond that, turn off your inner worker. Save the rest of the day for yourself.
Additionally, avoid snacking mindlessly. Be mindful of the time you spend eating and don’t overdo it. And, try not to overdo coffees, tea or soda toward the afternoon or early evening. Caffeine can aggravate the wind-down routine for the day, lead to a restless sleep, which can then lead to a rough start to the next day.
Apps can be a huge help
To get you started on the path to a healthy, anxiety-free weekend, Redmond suggested a few apps, readings and other useful tools.
- Calm: This app offers timed breathing with soothing verbal prompts, visualizations and a great overall person-in-environment experience.
- Headspace: Another excellent app with lighthearted but engaging prompts and exercises, as well as a tracking program to plot your progress.
- Brain Yoga: Redmond’s favorite app, this one is a combination of the other two. It has puzzles, atmosphere and patterns, and is wonderful with earphones.
- Psych Central: An excellent resource for support with your ongoing therapy or medications, Psych Central has more tips for the Sunday/Monday blues.
- Binaural Beats: Binaural Beats are specific kinds of music in various ranges that engage various brainwave patterns. For example, binaural beats in the “alpha” range are thought to promote relaxation and decrease anxiety. A Google search for “binaural beats” can help you find the one that’s right for you.