Stop the Sunday stressing

Laura Vanderkam outlines some ways to banish those Sunday anxiety feelings.



For many people worry about Monday mornings overshadows the whole weekend, particularly Sunday. This bank holiday weekend, that Sunday anxiety may at least be delayed until Monday, but what can you do to lessen the dread?

Writer Laura Vanderkam, author of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast and Off The Clock, has some advice:

Plan your weeks on Fridays

Much Sunday anxiety stems from knowing you’ve got big challenges waiting for you on Monday, but not knowing exactly how or when you’ll deal with them.

If you wait to plan your weeks until Sunday night (or Monday morning) you can spend much of the weekend pondering your workload. If you plan your weeks on Fridays, though, you can assign yourself a time to tackle all outstanding assignments.

You can schedule meetings and phone calls and make sure that you’re aware of upcoming deadlines and have a plan to meet them. You can do this all before the weekend starts, and so give your brain permission to stop ruminating about your to-do list.

Plan something fun for Sunday nights

I suggest thinking through weekends at least a few days ahead of time (Wednesday is good). Come up with 3-5 anchor events — things that you can look forward to, and that will add to your energy levels. And then, the important breakthrough: schedule one of these activities for Sunday night.

The Sunday scaries are really a (negative) anticipation of the work week.

Why not give yourself something more positive to anticipate? A low-key get together with friends, or a sunset run somewhere pretty helps stretch the Sunday feeling, and focuses your brain on your upcoming fun until it’s time to go to bed.

Plan a Monday treat

Whether you like you job or not, Monday doesn’t have to be all bad. Maybe you and two work friends could start a tradition of going out for lunch together on Mondays.

Maybe you could start a recurring Monday night happy hour. Maybe you could go to your favourite class at the gym after work on Mondays, or join a choir that meets Monday nights. Maybe you could take your family out for dinner at one of your favourite places every Monday.

You could save a favourite podcast to listen to on your Monday morning commute.

Or, my favourite treat: start Monday morning with the work you like best. Could you carve out 8-10 a.m. for working on a big, intrinsically motivating project? Figure out what might make you excited to get out of bed.

Identify your stressors

This is a long-term solution, but if you can pinpoint exactly what leads to Sunday brooding, you might be able to remove these woes, or mitigate them. Is it the commute?

Maybe you can start working from home on Mondays, or shift your hours so you can avoid the worst of the traffic. Maybe a toxic co-worker can be avoided if you get yourself promoted into a different role. Maybe your team always sets deadlines on Mondays, but not for any good reason.

A different default day might make Mondays more manageable.

Do work that excites you

Carving out the first hour or two of Monday morning for a project is good, but it’s even more awesome to do great work all week. Life is short, and I really do want anyone reading this to find work that is meaningful, enjoyable and challenging.

You don’t necessarily need to quit your job; there are often ways to turn the job you have into the job you want. Outline a “realistic ideal week”. What would fill your work hours? What would those work hours be?

Challenge yourself to do something, each day, for the next 6-12 months, to move yourself closer to this vision. I promise that in a year you will have cured the Sunday scaries, and replaced them with Almost Monday Moxie — that happy feeling of knowing the weekend is great, and you’ll have a great work week too.

*This article was first published on Laura’s website.

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