What Are the Sunday Scaries? Managing Workweek Anxiety

By Jennifer Herrity

Updated August 30, 2022 | Published January 22, 2021

Updated August 30, 2022

Published January 22, 2021

Jennifer Herrity is a career coach at Indeed who has worked with job seekers from various industries over the last 12 years. She creates resources to help people navigate career challenges with tools and techniques she has refined through practical experience.

a woman sitting at a computer set up at her kitchen table at night

After enjoying a relaxing weekend, you may feel nervous to return to work on Monday morning. The “Sunday scaries” are a common term these days and can have many causes, like looming anxiety about the upcoming busy workweek or a large project that’s due soon. It's important to identify why you're experiencing the Sunday scaries to effectively handle or stop this type of anxiety.

In this article, we explore the Sunday scaries and their causes, plus offer tips for managing and preventing them.

What are the Sunday scaries?

The Sunday scaries are a type of anticipatory anxiety reflecting the nervousness you may feel the evening before the start of the workweek. For those who work more traditional office hours, this could take place on Sunday evenings or afternoons. The Sunday scaries can also occur for people who work nontraditional hours. For example, if you have Wednesday and Thursday off, but work for the remainder of the week, then your Sunday scaries could occur on Thursday evenings.

Related: 15 Tips To Effectively Manage Anxiety at Work

What causes the Sunday scaries?

There are many possible reasons why you're experiencing this type of anxiety. You should identify why it's occurring so you can better manage and keep it from affecting your productivity. Common causes may include:

  • Anticipating your upcoming workweek responsibilities

  • Feeling unhappy or unsatisfied with your career

  • Maintaining an unhealthy work-life balance

  • Undergoing an unsatisfying work environment or company culture

  • Completing little to no productive personal tasks over the weekend

  • Realizing you'd prefer a different career path

  • Experiencing nervousness from an overload of projects or an upcoming presentation

Related: How To Not Be Nervous for a Presentation: 19 Tips To Calm Nerves

Strategies to prevent the Sunday scaries

Once you understand why they’re occurring, you can take action to avoid the Sunday scaries:

Complete chores and tedious tasks on Saturday

Many people may realize on Sunday evening that they completed little to no productive tasks over the weekend. This may cause you to feel upset or disappointed going into the start of a new workweek. Try making a to-do list of your personal tasks you'd like to accomplish on Friday afternoon or evening.

Consider completing as many of your tasks as possible on Saturday. Knowing you completed several pending items can allow you to have a relaxing and restful Sunday. This confident feeling can follow you into Monday morning, causing you to feel more energized to start on your weekly work tasks.

Read more: How To Create a Productive To-Do List (With Tips)

Stay positive about your weekend

Many obstacles could keep you from completing all of your tasks or goals over the weekend. If you only finished a few items, stay positive about it. Rather than focusing on what you weren’t able to get done, set goals to complete these items through the upcoming week and the following weekend.

Make a list of the items you did finish to remind yourself of moments when you were productive. Input your remaining tasks into a schedule for the week to ensure you'll finish them. Giving yourself a plan helps you stay positive and look forward to what you'll accomplish throughout the week.

Related: 10 Tips for Maintaining a Positive Attitude

Make Friday afternoons more productive

Thinking about starting your Monday with a long list of tasks to complete throughout the workweek may cause the Sunday scaries. You can avoid this by making a list of tasks to finish Friday afternoon. Put yourself ahead of your Monday schedule by starting or completing your Monday tasks during work on Friday, or consider staying a little later on Friday to work on a few items. This can help you feel less overwhelmed on Sunday evenings when you're thinking about your upcoming weekly schedule.

Related: 10 Simple Ways To Be More Productive at Work

Refrain from working on Sunday

Weekends are a great time to give your brain a break from work-related tasks. Try to keep yourself from working on Sunday by spending time with friends and family, enjoying outside activities or engaging in a hobby. Free your mind of work-related projects and stay in the moment. Knowing you had a calm and relaxing weekend makes you feel refreshed, energized and ready to complete your upcoming tasks on Monday.

Related: 5 Tips for Balancing Work and Family Effectively

Tips to manage the Sunday scaries

While you might plan ahead and relax on the weekends, the Sunday scaries can still occur. Luckily, a few methods can help you effectively manage—and banish—these feelings:

Determine the source of your anxiety

Before you can effectively manage your anxiety, you must reflect on what's possibly causing it. You might be able to identify a key source, or there could be several factors. Think about the different tasks throughout your workweek and locate the ones you're anxious about. From there, you can brainstorm strategies to address and resolve your Sunday scaries so you can feel more in control of your work and personal life.

Practice relaxation techniques

Having anxiety about the upcoming workweek may impact your critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. If you start feeling overwhelmed, take a moment to practice some relaxation techniques to reduce your anxiety and nerves:

  • Meditate or conduct breathing exercises

  • Stretch and exercise

  • Listen to music

  • Talk with a coworker, friend or family member

  • Play with a pet

Related: Tips on How to Get Rid of Nerves and Feel More Confident

Find something to look forward to

Try to schedule something unique or fun on your Mondays to give yourself something to look forward to at the beginning of every workweek. This could be a regular phone call with a friend later that evening or lunch from your favorite restaurant. Setting a new routine may help you associate Monday as a positive day in your mind.

Rearrange your work schedule

Monday might be more enjoyable if you rearrange your work schedule to consist of easier and more manageable tasks, and spread them throughout the week. This can start your week off on a positive note as you complete lighter tasks and gradually work your way toward more challenging items later on.

Maintain a to-do list

You'll typically feel more in control of your workload if you use a schedule and associated to-do list to check off and celebrate tasks. On Friday afternoon, write down each task with a deadline next week. Then build a schedule that includes your meetings and upcoming due dates.

Give yourself plenty of time to finish tasks and leave room for any unexpected calls or work issues that may appear throughout the week. Being organized makes it easier to prioritize tasks and feel confident you'll stay productive and accomplish your goals.

Related: How To Effectively Organize Your Calendar

Consider speaking to a therapist

If your Sunday scaries are frequent and don’t seem to improve after speaking to friends and family, a qualified therapist may be able to help you further pinpoint the cause of your anxiety and talk you through any necessary changes in your life. This could include pursuing a new career path, having a difficult conversation with a manager or addressing issues at home that may be affecting your work and adding to your anxiety.

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