Dr Kalanit Ben-Ari
Five Tips for Overcoming Sunday Night Anxiety
What is Sunday night anxiety and how can we overcome it?
While most of us would love to enjoy a longer weekend, those of us with Sunday night anxiety become overly worried and anxious about the prospect of a new working week.
This anxiety might affect your mood and sleep. You may also find that intense thoughts are more difficult to control than usual and that you experience overwhelming worry or panic. On Monday morning you might find it challenging to get up, worrying about the day ahead and thinking negative thoughts.
The reasons for Sunday Night Anxiety vary. In some cases it may be caused by stress in general, a specific boss or work environment, your position in life, or your ability to handle the transition between a relaxing weekend and a busy and demanding working week with endless to-do lists. Whatever the reason, you are not alone. 42% of EU respondents who have the Sunday night blues report they are "really bad" (as reported by Monster Data 2015).
Here are five tips to help you to overcome your Sunday night anxiety:
1. Reschedule your meetings
Move your Monday meeting to a little bit later in the morning, so you can make a start on your to-do list and check your emails with a cup of coffee. This will help you to enjoy a calmer transition from the weekend and ease gently into the working week. Likewise leave 20 minutes at the end of the working day on Friday to organise your to-do list. Investing time in prioritising your workload ready for Monday might help you to end the week feeling more organised and in control.
2. Distract yourself Plan a fun early Sunday evening activity such as a family games night, movie, or a short walk after dinner to help take your mind off work. This will help to distract you from the week ahead and to relax. Try to minimise alcohol on Sunday night as this will affect your sleep and, in turn, your mood on Monday morning. If possible, start Monday morning with some 'me time' so you have something to look forward to, such as an early morning walk, special breakfast with a colleague or online yoga session. Practicing mindfulness can also help to reduce your anxiety and support you to be present in the moment.
3. Get an early night
Sleep is so important for your mental and physical health, so try to go to bed early on Sunday evening, to encourage a better night's sleep and help you to wake up feeling refreshed and ready for work on Monday. This will help to prepare you for the week ahead, and improve your concentration, mood and outlook.
4. Talk to someone
If you’re struggling with feeling anxious or worried, try to reach out to someone close to you. Talking to a family member or friend about how you're feeling can help you to identify the reasons for your anxiety so that you can try to resolve it. Even if you do not feel ready to go into detail about your anxiety, simply sharing your need for support is a step in the right direction.
You might want to consider talking to your boss as well. Once they are aware of how you’re feeling, you can work together to consider which tasks will be good to start with on a Monday morning.
If you feel that the intense thoughts and feelings that come with Sunday night anxiety are impacting your wellbeing, your relationship and functioning, it is advisable to reach out to your GP or a qualified therapist. They might be able to help you to identify the root of your anxiety and support you in making the necessary changes to bring more joy and fulfilment to your life.
5. Think positive thoughts
Thinking positive is not about ignoring your negative thoughts, but it is about being mindful and intentional about creating a balance. For example, remind yourself of past Mondays where you managed well can calm your front-cortex (where your negative thoughts live). Many people report using positive mantras such as "I can do it", "I am not alone with this. Many people feel the same", "I can talk to people who care for me for support" and "My feelings are a wave, it too will pass". Such mantras help to remind themselves of their strengths and the ability to manage these feelings can be very useful. You might like to try writing some of these mantras down and placing them around you as easy reminders throughout the day, or saying them out loud whenever you feel the need to.
Please note that these are not a replacement for any talking therapeutic processing (psychotherapy, counselling or psychological) that will address the core of your feelings, but as an accompaniment and more immediate support when needed. Remember to seek professional advice from a GP or therapist if you are struggling.
This article was written by couples therapist and parental advisor Dr Kalanit Ben-Ari. With a doctorate in Psychology, Dr Ben-Ari has worked in the field for over 20 years and runs a private clinic in Hampstead, London. She is also an author, speaker, therapist supervisor, founder of The Village (getthevillage.com), and has been the Chair of Imago UK since 2013.