A Therapist’s Guide to Sunday Scaries

I hate Mondays

Have you ever had a great weekend, only to find that around midday Sunday (or later) a sense of worry or dread about the upcoming work week hits? If so, then you have probably experienced the “Sunday Scaries.”

This anticipatory anxiety seems to be more common these days. As a culture, we’re often overworked, underappreciated, and struggle with managing our work and personal lives. This can all add up to a difficult start to each week. Sometimes it might feel as if you’re dreading heading back to work the following day. If you’ve ever felt the Monday morning blues, just think of the Sunday Scaries as the appetizer to a Monday blues’ entree.

This anxiety that many of us feel on Sundays not only marks the upcoming work week (and the responsibilities that lie ahead), but may also be a period of mourning after some much-needed down time of relaxation with friends or loved ones. Simply put, Sunday reminds us that the weekend is almost over, and since we’ve already had our fun, now we have to get back to the “real world.” We have to hit the ground running all over again!

What are the Sunday Scaries All About?

While it may be easy to consider that the Sunday Scaries are a result of some clinical condition, that’s not necessarily true. Many folks, with and without a condition like Generalized Anxiety Disorder, might experience the Sunday Scaries — even therapists and psychiatrists.

It’s normal to have some anxiety, or even dread, about the upcoming work week. For some it is simply the anticipation of those competing responsibilities coming to a head. We consider how we’re going to get everything done and still be a good friend, partner, parent, etc. It’s daunting to consider.

For others, the Sunday Scaries could be a sign of something deeper. Perhaps you don’t enjoy your current path. Maybe you aren’t taking good enough care of yourself and prioritizing your health regularly. Perhaps you hate your job or the environment you find yourself in, and it’s been slowly eating away at you for some time.

Pausing to reflect on your feelings, and what may be going on underneath the surface, is helpful in differentiating between a simple case of the Sunday Scaries and something else that requires more pointed attention.

Working Through The Sunday Scaries

There are a lot of different ways to address the Sunday Scaries, as the experience is highly individualized. What might work for you, may not work for someone else. You may have to try a little trial and error to figure out what works best for you.

For those who find themselves worried about certain projects or tasks, focusing on the process of problem solving may offer some relief.

Start with relaxation techniques for a less anxious mind

Most of the time when we feel anxious or stressed about something we don’t problem solve well. In fact, research indicates that anxiety prevents us from problem solving normally. This is why relaxation techniques are highly favorable strategies among many therapists.

Make a “problem solving” list

One system for problem solving is plain, but effective. Start off by drawing a vertical column down a sheet of paper.

In the left hand column, write down a list of all the problems that you think you’ll face as you face Monday. Write down the meetings you’re worried about, the tasks that need your attention or projects that need a bit more finesse from you. In a right hand column, next to each problem, write out one task that you can do in the next 24 hours to improve that problem.

Keep tasks small and achievable

The key to effective problem solving is to make those tasks small and tangible. Too often we get wrapped up in the broader strategies, which only contribute to our anxiety. Simple problem solving helps us focus on actions we can take to improve our issues in the immediate future. And once we have actionable steps to execute, we feel a lot more in control. This helps lessen anxiety and the overwhelming fear that often comes with the Sunday Scaries.

Rely on What Works Best for You

More effective problem solving might alleviate the Sunday Scaries for some, and may not work for others. That’s OK. Take time to figure out what works best for you in soothing your anxiety about the upcoming week.

And if you have a hard time doing so, you can always consult with a licensed therapist who can set up an effective individualized plan to get your Sunday Scaries under control once and for all.

Published by

Jor-El Caraballo

Talkspace Therapist