You Can Conquer the Sunday Scaries
On Monday, I introduced you to the concept of the “Sunday Scaries” and how it affected me and my Biglaw career. If you haven’t read it yet, take a look at that post (An Introduction to the Sunday Scaries) and then come on back over to get some advice on how you can combat your own version of this workplace illness.
If you are looking for a little inspiration on how you can cope with your Sunday night anxiety over work, read through the quotes and tips below. Each of these quotes inspired me, and I hope that at least one idea will resonate with you, too.
If anything does, it might help to write it down somewhere that you can take a look at on Sundays (or whenever work anxiety strikes you) so you can remember to take action, take a moment to pause, or change your frame of mind.
1. Take Action
“Nothing diminishes anxiety faster than action.” – Walter Anderson
One of the main obstacles to having a stress-free weekend is all of the time we spend worrying about things that we think are going to take place in the future. When it comes to the Sunday Scaries, these worries are usually things that have to get done on Monday or during the workweek ahead.
It can feel overwhelming even on the weekend when you have a miles long to-do list waiting for you. Sometimes it can be so overwhelming that you just can’t seem to stop thinking about the list.
While it is important to have a work-free weekend as often as possible so that you can recharge, rest, enjoy your family and friends and clear your mind for a productive week ahead, sometimes this simply cannot be done. If you are constantly worrying about a certain task that feels overwhelming, sometimes the only cure to stopping this anxiety is to do something about it. Take action.
I remember one weekend I was super stressed about an upcoming filing that I knew was approaching but I was not sure exactly when. I kept thinking and worrying about whether I had enough time to complete it, even though it was the weekend.
When I finally took the time to sit down, open up my computer, log on to my work server and scroll through my emails and documents, I was able to figure out the exact date of the filing and what steps I still needed to get done. I probably spent two hours sorting this out and coming up with a plan of attack to complete it over the next few workdays, but before that, I had wasted hours stressing over it.
The lesson here is that sometimes you have to take action, spend a few hours on a task, and clear it off of your plate. This does not mean you have to finish up the entire task, but rather take just enough action to assuage your stress levels and comfort your brain so that you have space to focus on whatever it is that you are doing that weekend that is not work-related. Fretting over something on Sunday but not doing anything about it is the worst, as this proverb so perfectly sums up:
“Worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.” – English proverb
2. Remember to Live in the Moment
“Living in the moment means letting go of the past and not waiting for the future. It means living your life consciously, aware that each moment you breathe is a gift.” – Oprah
Usually this is easier said than done, but it doesn’t hurt being reminded of it as often as possible that you should live in the moment and not worry about things that happened in the past or what might happen in the future.
When it comes to combatting the Sunday Scaries specifically, I have found the following to be helpful to help nudge yourself to live in the moment and put the upcoming workweek out of your mind.
Don’t spend your Sunday evenings alone in your apartment. Spend them with your family and friends. Better yet, spend the day and evening with someone who is positive and enjoys talking about anything but work. Only engage with people who lift you up on Sundays.
If you have a friend or family member who you love but who is a total Debbie downer, don’t call her every Sunday evening! Switch up your routine if you have one, and call her on another night. Save your Sundays for positive people.
If you can, spend some time outdoors. It is likely that you are going to be cooped up inside for most of the week, so use your Sundays wisely and get some fresh air. There is something magical about being outside that can calm you down like nothing else can.
“There are moments when all anxiety and stated toil are becalmed in the infinite leisure and repose of nature.” – Henry David Thoreau
3. Reframe Your Thinking
“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.” – Alphonse Karr
We often worry about things that at the time seem like the end of the world, but really are not. This is especially true about work issues that lead to the Sunday Scaries.
If there is something in particular about the week ahead that is stressing you out, and you simply cannot stop thinking about it (and you’ve tried to attack the anxiety by taking a little bit of action, and no matter how hard you try to live in the moment, you simply cannot get it off your mind), try to reframe your thinking about the particular issue.
For example, if an upcoming meeting has you feeling overwhelmed, think of what you are going to accomplish at it. Sure, you might feel stressed that you will be in over your head, but at the same time, you have the opportunity to wow your bosses in front of a big client.
Or maybe you are stuck working with a junior colleague who just does not have it together yet and you can’t help but think that next week’s project is going to take you twice as long as it would if you were working with someone more competent. Reframe this as an opportunity to train a new coworker in your work-style. You can mold him so that the next time, he’ll do things exactly as you want him to and your time will be saved.
Every issue has a bright side. It might sound Pollyanna-ish, but if having the attitude and thinking that something wonderful can come out of every situation worked for Einstein, it works for me:
“There are only two ways to live your life: as though nothing is a miracle, or as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein
*Bonus Tip For Kicking Your Monday Off Right
After all is said and done, you still might not be able to completely put aside your Sunday Scaries and focus solely on non-work things for a whole weekend. Hopefully you’ll be able to use some of these tips and quotes to inspire you so that you can at least push the Sunday Scaries back as far as possible on Sunday night. Even if you can’t, remember that you can still start your Monday off on the right foot.
No matter what kind of day it’s going to be, before you set foot in that office or jump on your first hour-long conference call, do something kind for someone else. Maybe it means buying a fancy latte for a coworker to drop off on her desk as you walk in, bringing breakfast for a homeless person you pass on the subway or dropping off your wife’s dry cleaning without her asking you to.
Whatever it is you decide to do on Monday morning, if you start your day off with kindness, there’s no way your day can be completely bad. A little kindness goes a long way, and you never know whose day it can change or turn around – maybe even your own.
“Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change.” – Bob Kerrey
Any Tips to Share?
If you’ve had experience with the Sunday Scaries, do any of these quotes or tips resonate with you? If you have any other advice or quotes that could help us out, please share them in the comments below!