Recognize and Fix work anxiety and Sunday Scaries

sunday scaries work stress anxiety deal with fix

When Weekends Used to Be Stress-Free

My parents put me in ski lessons at the age of two or three and by the time I was in the fifth grade I had been ski racing competitively for a few years and was actually winning some things. Over the course of one weekend, when I was ten-years-old, I even won two races in a row.  I was never going to be good enough to make the Olympics, but for that one season in particular, I was the bomb.

To this day, I’m still an awesome skier (if I do say so myself!) and skiing makes me feel like a little kid again.  To have an open trail ahead of you, snow-capped trees surrounding you, the bright sun shining down through a cloudless sky, and wind blowing in your face is one of the most freeing experiences around.  But this is not a story about freedom, so let me back up a little bit.

Growing up, before I was good enough to win anything, my dad would drive us to ski classes and ski races every Saturday and Sunday.  Being the dedicated athlete that I was (see above where I mention that I was never going to make the Olympics – the following explanation should give you an idea as to why I was never destined for Olympic gold), one of my favorite parts of a day of skiing was the car ride home.

After a long day of skiing, we would jump in the car and I’d get excited that there would be chips and melted cheese dip for us upon arriving home and an NFL game on the TV to watch.  Life on those Sunday afternoons was pretty perfect.

On these long car rides, my dad often tuned the radio to the one country station that was playing in our area. My dad has the uncanny ability of remembering every single oldies song and country song from that time period, so after a beat or two, he’d immediately call out the name of both the song and the artist.

A Perfect Sunday

There was one particular country song that we would almost always hear on Sunday afternoons driving back from skiing.  I always got so excited anticipating when we would hear the first few beats of Lorrie Morgan’s  song “Except for Monday” so I could be the first to shout out the name.

I knew all of the words to it (and still do) and while I could not relate to her dislike of the other days of the week, since I loved every day, even school days, I nonetheless agreed with what I understood the main message of the song to be.  In the song, she sings:

“Except for Monday, which was never good anyway, Tuesday, I get a little sideways, Wednesday, I feel better just for spite, Thursday and Friday take too long, Before I know it, Saturday’s gone, But it’s Sunday now and you can bet that I’m all right”.

Just like Lorrie Morgan, I loved Sundays, too, and sure felt alright during those days.  Later, however, a different kind of Sunday mantra would come into my life that I bet most of you are familiar with – the “Sunday Scaries.”

What Are the Sunday Scaries?

The “Sunday Scaries” are defined by an overwhelming sense of dread that falls upon you on Sunday evening when you begin to think about the workweek ahead.  When you have a really bad case of the Sunday Scaries, they probably begin early in the day on Sunday, just after you wake up.

And when they are really, really bad, they might even begin on Saturday.  If you’ve ever found yourself on the weekend preoccupied and worried about all of the things you have to do at work the next week, or find yourself dreading meetings, projects or other upcoming items on your work to-do list, you too have had a case of the Sunday Scaries.

It’s totally normal to feel anxious about an upcoming work deadline once in a while, but when that anxiety becomes a weekly pattern, it is something to worry about. By the time I quit my Biglaw job, I had a bad case of the Sunday Scaries, every weekend, without fail. I even remember leaving the office once on a Friday night and already dreading having to come back on Monday.

On the weekends, I would often waste my free time worrying about work but not actually doing any, so I was neither having fun nor accomplishing anything on my work to-do list.

All that fretting over what might happen during the work week was just taking up my Unbillable Time (read my definition of “Unbillable Time” About Me) and I was wasting those precious hours stressing about things I either wasn’t in control of or wasn’t actively doing anything to change or complete.

How Can You Cure the Sunday Scaries?

In future posts, I’m going to give you tips on how you can cure your own case of the Sunday Scaries.  While I was still in Biglaw, I was never able to cure mine, so ultimately I had to leave the job in order to rid myself of them.  For now, though, I’m going to bring this post back to where I started, and back to Lorrie Morgan’s song “Except for Monday.”

Shortly after I left my Biglaw job, I listened to the song again.  Not only did it bring back great memories of my ski racing days (and car rides home and chips and cheese dip), but I was struck again by the lyrics.  This time, it was a different refrain that stood out to me, and that described my relationship to Biglaw to a tee:

“Don’t’ get me wrong, It wasn’t always this easy, Getting over you, Got a little rough on me, Didn’t take too long, ‘Til I got it together, And every day I thank my lucky stars you set me free”.

The Sunday Scaries and Work Anxiety how to fix
How to Recognize sunday scaries and work anxiety

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