The Sunday Scaries are a Real Thing—and Here’s How to Manage Them

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Kath Nash)

It’s Sunday afternoon and the sun is setting on the weekend. It suddenly hits you: Tomorrow’s Monday. Dozens of emails, unwritten school papers, difficult colleagues, or household chores will be vying for your attention tomorrow. You’re anxious and overwhelmed… and it’s not even Monday.

This experience is known as the Sunday Scaries.

According to a 2015 survey from job site, up to 76% of Americans report having “really bad” Sunday night blues. We sat down with Megan Murk, a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach in San Francisco, to learn more about the Sunday Scaries and simple ways to manage them at home.

What exactly are the Sunday Scaries?

“Sunday afternoon or evening can feel like a deadline for weekday prep but also the beginning of a new race to Friday afternoon,” explains Megan. “We’re stuck between feeling like we need to face the new week while also craving more down time. This can be a scary place—the tension is quite paralyzing.”

When we feel overwhelmed by or don’t enjoy our weekday work, the weekend becomes a time when we don’t have to think about or face it. Megan says, “On Sunday, realizing you’re soon going to be forced out of your safe bubble and back into work can feel like anxiously awaiting a five-day form of punishment.”

How to Beat the Sunday Scaries

To keep the Sunday Scaries at bay, keep the following tips from Megan in mind—no fancy equipment, trips to the health food store, or uncomfortable cross-legged positions required. They only take a few minutes and can be done from the comfort of your home.

Just breathe

Try counting to four on the inhale and five on the exhale. “Deep breathing relaxes our nervous system and eases the fight-or-flight response,” says Megan. As a result, you’ll feel calmer and like the world is no longer spinning.

Whenever the Sunday Scaries appear, remember that you, not the Sunday Scaries, are in control. You have the power and ability—just by breathing—to immediately calm yourself down and not let negative emotions take over.

Add a little weekend to your weekday

On Sunday, Megan suggests answering the following questions: What were the two or three brightest moments of the weekend and what made them enjoyable? When you have the answer, try scheduling one of these activities into the upcoming week.

“Whether it’s spending time with a friend, eating a favorite meal, or indulging some self-care, the more we know what we love about the weekends, the more we’re equipped to infuse these pleasures into the work week,” she says. “When we know the coming week includes a phone date with an old roommate or a favorite yoga class, it gives us something to look forward to and makes the week feel more comfortable and enjoyable.”

Take a moment to notice the good

During the weekdays, while brushing your teeth each night or sipping your morning coffee, think about the best part of the of the prior day, how it made you feel, and why you’re grateful for it. It could be a productive meeting, hug from your partner, or even your cup of caffeine.

“Your day can shift completely when you take a moment to pause and recognize what went well or what you’re grateful for,” says Megan. “When Sunday night rolls around, things are way less scary because you have taken time to notice and realize that happy, fun things occur Monday through Thursday, too.”