For most people, the end of the weekend isn’t a welcome time; it marks the return to the hustle and bustle of the workweek and all of the tasks therein.
In other words, Sunday nights can be tough, which is why the “Sunday scaries” are a reality for many folks who work a 9-to-5, Monday-to-Friday job.
If you’re one of the many people who feel a sense of dread come Sunday, there are things you can do to make your evening (and the rest of your week) a little better and a little calmer. Here’s what to know.
Create a relaxing Sunday night routine.
“People like routines, and humans thrive when their minds and bodies don’t have to think quite so hard,” said Ashley Janssen, a productivity consultant at Ashley Janssen Consulting. So, creating a Sunday evening routine can help you relax as you close out the weekend.
Janssen suggested developing a consistent schedule for the final few hours of each Sunday that will help set up your week. You might want to establish a good bedtime and engage in an activity you enjoy, such as reading a book, watching your favorite show or doing gentle yoga, she said.
Ending the weekend in a frenzy certainly won’t help you feel good about the upcoming week, but a calm Sunday night routine will.
Prepare for Monday morning.
This could mean packing your work bag ahead of time or checking the weather forecast so you can pick out your Monday outfit.
Sopper said doing this on Sunday evening makes his life easier once Monday morning arrives.
“I’m making decisions that are easier to make Sunday night than they are Monday morning,” he said.
And plan fun things for the week.
According to Janssen, an important part of setting your expectations for the week is reconsidering the feeling of dread that can arrive on Sunday.
“You’re making an expectation about the week before it’s even started,” she said — think of all the weeks you’ve been through that have turned out completely fine.
To help reduce your sense of despair, Janssen suggested making plans to look forward to during the week, like dinner with a friend or a movie night with your partner.
You could even add things to your Monday morning routine to make the day a little more pleasant. Maybe set up a coffee meeting with a co-worker instead of a video or phone call. Or order your favorite breakfast to eat before you start work.
All of these things can help reduce some of the anxiety that comes with the start of a new week.
Avoid mental task-listing.
Janssen said you should avoid mental task-listing on Sunday nights — that is, lying in bed and thinking about all of the things you have to do during the week ahead.
If you find that your to-do list runs through your mind as you’re trying to sleep, keep a notebook on your nightstand so you can jot down each thing you need to remember, she suggested.
This way, you “don’t have to hold it in [your] head anymore,” she said, which can help set you up for more restful sleep and a less anxious night.
Even before Sunday, you can get ready for the new week.
There are ways to start combating your sense of dread well in advance of Sunday night, Sopper said.
Before the weekend even starts, spend time on Friday afternoon looking at the calendar for the next week so you’re mentally prepared for what’s to come, he suggested. You might note some meetings or events that you’re looking forward to as well.
By bringing these tasks or meetings to your consciousness, you’ll be able to enjoy not only your Sunday but your Saturday, too, since you won’t feel uncertainty about your schedule.
“It’s a decent path to the weekend,” Sopper stated.
And if you have to work over the weekend, do the quick-hit tasks.
Many people don’t have the luxury of tuning out of work for the entire weekend — and it may even make them anxious to do so. If this is you, Sopper said to plan out your work intentionally; don’t just take on unruly tasks that have no possibility of getting done over the weekend.
Instead, focus on the one-and-done things, he said. So, if you need to quickly finish a presentation before Monday, do that task instead of working away on a long-term assignment that has no definite end date.
This way, “at least if you worked, you have a sense of completeness,” Sopper added. And by Sunday evening, you’ll feel ready for the new week.
Prioritize self-care on Sunday night — and during your weekend as a whole.
“We need to reframe what it means to waste time and reframe leisure and rest as productive time,” Janssen said. “It’s not a waste of time to spend time with your family and friends or … go for a walk or rest.”
No one does good work or makes great decisions when they’re not taking care of themselves, she added. “Self-care is the competitive advantage in life. It sets you up for all the things that are important to you,” she said.
Sopper also stressed the importance of slowing down over the weekend to help you feel refreshed once your alarm goes off on Monday.
During the weekend, “relax in bed a little longer. … Linger over breakfast or over lunch. Slow your roll a little bit,” Sopper said.
So, don’t be afraid to take advantage of that leisurely time on a Sunday evening. It can help you be better prepared for the week to come.