TGIF is a thing, so why isn’t TGIS? 

In some ways, Sunday is better than Friday. It’s part of the weekend, it gives you some extra time to finish all the household chores you had to do on Saturday, and when you finally wrap those up, you might actually get some time to relax.

That is until the Sunday night anxiety kicks in. 

As the lead clinic counsellor at TELUS Health MyCare™ and with over 20 years of counselling experience, I have often heard guys say that they would start feeling anxious about the coming work week on Sunday night.

According to a new LinkedIn survey, 8 out of 10 workers worry about the week ahead. This isn’t necessarily because they dislike their jobs. In fact, it seems more common among guys who like what they do. It’s such a common phenomenon that it’s often referred to as the “Sunday scaries.”

Why does Sunday night work anxiety happen?

The same LinkedIn research found that 60 percent of people worry about their Monday workload, 44 percent are concerned about balancing their work and personal lives, and 39 percent feel anxious about the tasks they didn’t finish the week before. It’s common for people struggling with Sunday night work anxiety to feel irritated, overwhelmed, restless, and angst.

People wear exhaustion as a badge of honour in our society. For many men, the reality is that the weekend is a constant state of go-go-go—driving kids to 15 different practices, doing chores, being social, catching up on work, etc. etc. 

You may feel stressed, and you also may feel like there isn’t enough of you to go around. Being in this state of mind regularly can be hard on your nervous system and contributes to anxiety about starting the week and anxiety about ending the weekend. If you never decompress, you end up in a perpetual state of anxious energy.

It can leave you with an empty tank on Sunday night, right before starting the grind all over again. All of this causes poor sleep, which means beginning the workweek tired and irritable. It’s a vicious cycle if there ever was one.

Now, let’s look at ways to break that cycle and send the Sunday scaries scurrying!

How to help with Sunday night work anxiety 

Set it and forget it

Take a few minutes on Friday afternoon to jot down a to-do list for Monday, so you don’t have to think about it over the weekend. If that sounds too easy, it’s because IT IS REALLY EASY. Well played, good sir!

Be prepared 

Take your cue from the Boy Scouts motto and make some time on Sunday to prepare for Monday. Pick out your clothes, get lunch ready, make extra food on Sunday to bring as leftovers on Monday, anything you can do to feel less anxious by prepping like the BOSS you are. A lot of anxiety is rooted in uncertainty, so when we feel prepared, we can focus on other things, like enjoying life. 

You do you

Ask yourself: What is important to me? We all need to make a living and be there for our families, no doubt. But giving all of your time to everyone else’s needs and not having your own needs met can make you resentful and frustrated. It can also make it hard to look forward to anything. We tend to think that “me-time” will just miraculously happen, but we have to MAKE it happen.

Take stock of the tasks and activities that matter to you, and if you can, let the other stuff go and carve out some time for yourself on the weekend AND during the week. We tend to feel less exhausted when we put our time into meaningful things. When we do things that satisfy us, we feel fewer of the negative emotions that can feel a lot like anxiety on a Sunday night.

Make Monday = Funday

The first day of the workweek doesn’t have to be a total drag. Instead, schedule some of the you-time we just covered ON MONDAYS. Pick something special to do that you don’t do on other workdays: go out for your favourite food at lunch, treat yourself to a next-level coffee, zip home for a nooner, whatever floats your boat. 

That way, you can say to yourself, “Monday sucks, but at least I get to do something awesome.” Looking forward to something, even just a little bit, helps take anxiety out of the picture.

Put your phone away

On the one hand, we waste hours on our phones and then feel like we don’t have time to do anything. On the other hand, constant phone use can make you feel like you aren’t achieving enough or doing all of the supposedly awesome things that other people are doing. Say no-no to FOMO by stashing your phone, yo! We spend a copious amount of time as adults complaining about not having enough time. And yet we waste hours and hours and hours on phones. Put the phone down and go do something you enjoy.

Better out than in

Another thing that happens to us when we’re in a constant state of go, go, go is a persistent feeling of anxious energy. Keeping busy puts us in a perpetual state of disconnect from our emotions, our thoughts, and our needs. 

The thing is, sometimes we don’t have the vocabulary to get connected with our feelings, which means we may avoid thinking or talking about them. You know, most of us didn’t grow up in families that had healthy discussions about emotional wellbeing and naming feelings. It might even feel uncomfortable for you to read this. So, most of us did not develop that language, and when we think of our range of feelings, we think of sad, mad, and stress.

My go-to with almost every client I work with is to take a moment to check in with yourself every time they use the bathroom. As funny as that sounds, it’s something everyone has to do many times throughout the day. Take a minute to breathe, check in on yourself, name the emotion and what’s happening for you. 

The important thing is to feel the emotion, identify it, and try saying it out loud. Use as many four-letter words as you want! Being able to name what you’re feeling makes it easier to tame that feeling once it’s out in the open.

And then, before you unlock the door and exit it, just think to yourself, “what is the next best thing I can do for myself right now?” When you take a moment to connect with yourself, you can figure out what steps you need to take to make the next hour or so better for you. This helps you to not just blindly go through the weekend or the day, building more and more frustration or more and more anxiety.

Who knows, you might even be able to make peace with Mondays in general…although that might be asking waaaaaaay too much.

Got a hot tip for making Mondays more bearable? Go ahead and share it in the comments below!

Not Feeling Like Yourself?

Tackle chronic stress, anxiety and depression with MindFit Toolkit. Access free mental health tools designed for men.