You know that stress characterized by laying in bed on a Sunday with a spinning head, wondering how you’ll ever possibly get through the imminent workweek? That’s what we like to call the “Sunday scaries” — the kind of irrational worrying of your impending future when your weekend comes to a close. The emails — oh, the emails — through which you’ll finally have to dig. You have meetings scheduled back-to-back. You have an interview and a business lunch and a billion deadlines and a vet appointment because your cat’s not eating, and you don’t even think you have time to eat yourself.
Is the exhausting weekend you just had “unwinding” really, actually, already coming to a close?
It is. It really is. But you don’t have to succumb the Sunday scaries. The Sunday scaries don’t have to consume you like the pile of work waiting for you. We spoke with eight professional working women who share how they beat the Sunday scaries when the stresses of the approaching week and the regrets of the last week kick in.
1. Prepare for doing what you love
“I haven’t dreaded Monday in the last four years, as I’ve discovered that the key to beating the Sunday scaries is to find something that you love to do — something that makes you want to jump off the bed and run to work in the morning,” says Samantha Diane, visibility strategist, entrepreneur and aerialist. “For me, it was starting my own business and working with clients who I truly care about. If you’re doing something you want to do, when Monday rolls around, you’ll be glad, not scared. And even though I love what I do, I always make sure I get in a workout on Monday, as getting in exercise on Monday can set the tone for a positive and productive week.”
2. Practice self-care
“I definitely battle the Sunday scaries — I have a full-time job and two side hustles, so my weekends are filled with work on my passion projects,” says Taylor Morrison, founder of Emancipation. “The pressure of my businesses and my day job often comes to a head on Sunday evenings. I created a Sunday night ritual to help me fight against the Sunday scaries. I shut off my laptop and put away my phone, and I don’t look at them until Monday morning. Then I take a bath while reading a good book. That self-care practice helps me beat the Sunday scaries every time.”
3. Make a to-do list
“I have a habit that isn’t perfect but seems to be working well,” says Tiffany Humfeld, founder of Peace, Love & Wine. “I put all my calendar items on Google Calendar — including some important to-dos as ‘all-day actions’ so they show up at the top. For these, I emphasize priority by putting one to five exclamation points in front of the to-do item to indicate the level of priority). I review my calendar before I go to bed and make updates or additions of any new items. This also serves as a reminder for me to send a confirmation message to anyone I am meeting with the following day, so people — including myself — remember the meeting is scheduled. I’m also playing with the free version of HubSpot as a task list where I can schedule reminder emails and check items off the list by date priority.”
4. Have fun with friends
“After many years of realizing how daunting Sunday was, I decided to turn the weekend on its head by creating a ritual Sunday funday with all my best friends,” says Lori Cheek, a New York City-based architect turned entrepreneur and founder and CEO of Cheekd. “There’s a group of 15 or so of us that meet every Sunday — [and have] for almost two years — around 3:30 in the afternoon for happy hour at our local watering hole on the Lower East Side. We play Scrabble, Jenga, Connect Four and all sorts of other fun board games and hang out until 7 p.m., which is still early enough to get home for dinner and go to bed early. It’s a solid three and a half hours of fun where we’re not focused on the beginning of the workweek. The other fun thing is that, because there’s so many of us, it’s almost always someone’s birthday, so we often throw that celebration into the mix.”
5. Phone a friend
“When I’m facing the Sunday scaries, which I remember getting even as a kid in school, I phone a friend,” says Gabrielle Costello, a content marketing supervisor. “Even if I don’t want to, I find a way to get out of my own head and get connected with someone. It can be a friend that I haven’t caught up with in a while or a call to my grandma to say hello. This usually helps put things into perspective so that I can focus on preparing for the week. I also find that if my space is cluttered, it makes it harder to beat the blues. I’ll stop everything I’m doing to tidy up, and it usually helps significantly.”
6. Prep meals
“The idea of meal prepping is totally fun for some people,” says Angel M. Hoodye, a licensed professional counselor, certified anger-resolution therapist and the owner of Flourishing Hope Counseling PLLC. “If this is you, then get rocking. Blast those meals out. This gives you one less thing to have to do during the upcoming week. Cooking can be very relaxing and a wonderful way to try something new [and] flex your creative muscles in the kitchen while still being productive for the upcoming week. This helps to decrease your stress as you get geared up for the upcoming workweek.”
7. Get organized
“As the chief creative officer and cofounder of one of America’s fastest-growing companies, my Sunday is just an extension of the workweek ahead,” says Sana Javaid director of public relations for Eff Creative Group. “I answer any open emails and prepare employee schedules, uninterrupted and with a clear mind. I also spend my Sundays with my two daughters and dogs, helping them with homework, shopping and preparing dinners for during the week when I may not have time to do so. When you love what you do, there are no Sunday blues. Keeping yourself organized and setting aside time for family and personal care is key to be able to achieve a healthy and happy work-life balance.”
8. Coach yourself
“Sometimes, I have a little talk with myself,” says Vanessa Valiente, a San Diego-based personal stylist and the creator of V-Style. “‘Hey, Monday is not a big deal. You kill it every week, and the weekend will be here again before you know it. It’s silly to waste a moment of this beautiful life on anxiety.’ If a talk with myself doesn’t work, I reach out to someone who knows me well. My boyfriend or fellow anxious girlfriends are beyond helpful when I am overwhelmed on a Sunday.”
A version of this post previously appeared on Fairygodboss, the largest career community that helps women get the inside scoop on pay, corporate culture, benefits and work flexibility. Founded in 2015, Fairygodboss offers company ratings, job listings, discussion boards and career advice.