What are the Sunday Scaries?
Finally! Friday night is here. You are looking forward to having some free time this weekend to unwind and relax. But, before you know it, Sunday evening is upon you. As you think about everything that you need to accomplish this upcoming week, you start feeling intense dread, frustration, and anxiety. Emotionally, you want to get back to relaxing and enjoying what is left of your weekend, but your mind just won’t stop thinking about what’s to come. If this sounds like you, then you may be experiencing the Sunday Scaries.
Sunday Scaries are a reaction to anticipatory stress, which is a type of stress that you experience when you feel worried or anxious about what may happen in the future. It is common for people to say, “I have the Sunday Scaries,” when communicating this experience with others.
Perhaps you are worried about a deadline that you have to meet this week for a big class project. Or you’re feeling anxious about a presentation that you have to give. You also could be feeling uneasy about all the responsibilities in your personal life that need your attention this week, such as driving a long distance to a doctor’s appointment or moving out of your dorm or apartment.
With all the unknowns that you are facing, it’s completely normal for your brain to go into panic mode on Sunday evening. Still, no matter how Sunday Scaries manifest for you, there are strategies that you can use to help defeat them!
Signs of the Sunday Scaries
The Sunday Scaries look different for everyone, because each person’s weekly obligations, responsibilities, and activities differ, but here are some common signs that someone is experiencing them (Cleveland Clinic, 2021; Mandriota, 2021; Raypole, 2020):
- Upset stomach
- Racing heart
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty sleeping
- Loss of motivation
- Difficulty focusing/zoning out
- Feeling uneasy, worried, or anxious
- Feeling irritable
- Racing thoughts about the upcoming week
- Catastrophizing, or assuming the worst of, situations in the future
It can be difficult to face upcoming expectations and pressures, but there are ways that you can take back your Sunday, in order to get the most out of your weekend.
5 Ways to Defeat the Sunday Scaries
Implementing a few of the wellbeing strategies below can help you to ease your mind and reclaim your Sunday.
Plan a Sunday Funday
It can be challenging to think of Sunday as part of the weekend, if you’re preoccupied with thoughts about the week ahead every Sunday evening. To help with this, try taking some time, each Friday, to plan an enjoyable Sunday evening activity that lightens your mood, gives you energy, or allows you to relax. While you are engaged in your chosen activity, try to stay present, in the moment. You may consider exercising, reading, talking a nature walk, or cooking – whatever works best for you! If, during this time, you start thinking about the upcoming week, take a deep breath, and bring yourself back to what you’re doing.
If you find yourself specifically dreading Monday, take a moment to visualize what your Monday will look like. Be as detailed as possible, in your mind, as you imagine yourself moving through the day. Odds are, after finishing your visualization, you’ll find that it’s just like any other Monday, and that you already have the internal and external resources that you will need to get through the day successfully. This strategy will help you to break the negative thinking cycle that robs you of your peace on Sunday evenings.
Reframe Your Thoughts
On Sunday evenings, you may find yourself saying things like “This week is going to suck,” or “This week is going to be so stressful.” Negative thoughts, such as these, can have an impact on your mental health, so try to reframe them into something more neutral or positive. For example, you can say, “I don’t know how this week is going to turn out, but I will do my best to make it a good one.” You can even ask yourself, “What would it feel like if everything went my way this week?”, in order to increase positive thoughts.
Savor the Weekend
Sometimes, you may let your academic responsibilities run into your weekend. You may find yourself checking emails, typing out a quick response message to a professor, or even continuing to work on a project. Failing to disconnect from these responsibilities over the weekend can leave you feeling too exhausted to adequately tackle the week ahead. If possible, try to adjust your schedule and re-arrange your priorities, throughout the week, to ensure that you are completing important tasks before the weekend comes.
Talk to a Therapist
With Sunday Scaries, you experience anticipatory stress (sometimes accompanied by feelings of anxiety) that will subside in a day or two, whereas anxiety disorders are characterized by frequent and persistent worrying (Mandriota, 2021). If you find that your Sunday Scaries are becoming debilitating, negatively affecting your appetite, your sleep, your mental health, or your ability to engage in daily activities, it may be a good time to seek out a mental health therapist. A therapist can help you to reframe your unhelpful thoughts, process your emotions, and teach you tools, such as mindfulness, that can help your mind remain in the present moment.
Experiencing Sunday Scaries is not a pleasant experience, but there are ways to take back your Sunday so that you can feel rested and ready for the upcoming week. Give these wellbeing strategies a try, and see if they help you defeat your Sunday Scaries!
Cleveland Clinic. (2021, December 8). What are the ‘Sunday scaries’? Healthessentials. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/sunday-scaries/
Mandriota, M. (2021, September 17). What are Sunday scaries? PsychCentral. https://psychcentral.com/anxiety/sunday-scaries#signs
Raypole, C. (2020, August 25). Sunday scaries are real – here’s how to cope. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/sunday-scaries