Fondateur, auteur, rédacteur @Word Shaper
It’s 7 PM on Sunday evening, and you’re slumped on your sofa. As day turns to night, that familiar feeling of stress—as if you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders—begins to rear its ugly head again. The truth is, your Sunday night melancholy has more than a little to do with dreading the next day. The Boomtown Rats spoke to us all when they sang,“Tell me why I don’t like Mondays?” Many of us feel the Sunday night blues, but worrying about the coming week doesn’t have to become the norm. Here are a few practical tips to take back control and start the week off on the right foot.
Preparing for the week ahead can stop you feeling so overwhelmed. The best way to avoid stress on Sunday night is to organise your next week of work on Friday, before leaving the office. Update your schedule, finish tasks, tidy your office and tackle any difficult business so that you are as calm as possible when you arrive at work early Monday morning. You’ll be more laid-back on Sunday night if you’re not worrying about the next day.
You can also make Mondays go smoother by arranging a stress-free schedule. Keeping Monday mornings appointment-free means no anxiety about giving a presentation in front of a new client, being delayed on your commute, working on a project at the last minute or having to head up a meeting. In fact, you can use each Monday morning to calmly organise the rest of your week by reading emails and planning any deadlines on the horizon so that you’re not dwelling on any of this on Sunday night.
Mona, a consultant in a large company, has used this method with great success. “I always feel a degree of sadness on Sunday night. I have been known to spend hours staring into space, stressed out because the next day I have an early appointment that is more than an hour from where I live. I’ll be in complete distress compared with the weekend I just had. I now take care of myself by easing my schedule on Monday mornings so that I don’t think about it the night before,” said Mona.
Force of habit is the key to restful sleep. People often think that they can catch up on lost sleep at the weekend, but going to bed and waking up later than the rest of the week upsets the body’s circadian rhythms. In fact, six in ten of us have trouble falling asleep on Sunday nights.
By maintaining the same sleep-wake rhythm you keep during the week, you’ll avoid being in a daze on Monday morning. If you partied until dawn on Saturday night, though, you might want to spend a little time doing something relaxing on Sunday night to make up for it. Go screen free, take time out to meditate which calms anxiety and helps you sleep better. Read a book, listen to a podcast or choose something else that relaxes you.
Ilan is working as an intern for a few months. He said, “The Sunday night blues make me jumpy. My brain starts to race at 100mph, and I know ahead of time that I will have trouble falling asleep. So, I’ve set up a Sunday night routine. I don’t schedule anything, and I relax. I take advantage by doing things I never normally do, like taking a bath or watching a silly, feelgood movie. This calms me down and helps me fall asleep at a decent time by clearing my mind.”
For others, it is the boredom and inactivity of Sunday that gets to them. Either way, you can make sure that Sunday night does not actually feel like Sunday night. If Saturday is overcrowded with activities—museum visits, movies, seeing friends and so on—Sunday can seem empty and sad in comparison. To nip this in the bud, try spacing out your activities over the weekend, up to and including Sunday evening. Seeing friends, having a drink or going for a brisk walk could make the end of the weekend more fun than you think, without the downtime that could let anxiety creep in.
Working along the same lines, try to liven up what many consider the toughest day of the week by doing something fun on Mondays. If you plan dinner out with friends or a date at the movies on Monday evening, the Sunday night blues will definitely be easier to bear. Who knows, you might actually find yourself eager to start the week!
Mona said, “On Sunday nights, I force myself to think positively and to focus on everything except work. I plan lunch on Mondays with my best friend at work. I think about my aerobics class on Tuesday nights. I look forward to happy hour with friends on Thursdays, and so on. These are the things that motivate me during the week, and when I think about them, life becomes a bit more carefree on Sunday at 7 PM.”
That inherent sense of dread on Sunday nights is most likely due to regret about the weekend being over rather than apprehension about the week ahead. It is important to really take advantage of the two-day break and distance yourself from work and its issues. The weekend is when you can give yourself a break and take your eyes off your inbox or that important project. More often than not, trying to get ahead on your work at the weekend is counterproductive, so choose activities and outings that allow you to relax, rest and enjoy total leisure time. This will counteract any Sunday night regrets—“I should never have done this”; “I didn’t do that”; “I didn’t really take advantage of the time”; “I’m exhausted”—and other negative thoughts that drag you down before the week has even started.
The best remedy for the Sunday night blues is to tell yourself that everyone feels them. You are not alone. Sunday is just another day. Rather than obsessing about it, change the way you think about it. If, despite all this advice, your anxiety is too much—and your company is easygoing—you could always arrange a slightly later start on Mondays, or use it as a day to work from home.
Translated by Mary Moritz
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Fondateur, auteur, rédacteur @Word Shaper