No, Sunday Scaries is not the name of a horror movie – although for some, it may feel this way. This term refers to:
“Anxieties one experiences on Sunday when thinking about the impending workweek, school week, or other obligations that await in the week ahead”
There are approximately 52 Sundays in a year. That’s a lot of time potentially spent suffering from Sunday Scaries, which in turn can have a huge impact on your client’s overall well-being or how you feel heading into the week.
This article will explore the phenomenon behind Sunday Scaries, use a problem-solving formula to help you coach your clients through Sunday Scaries and provide some strategies to address the underlying issues.
For many, the reason behind this weekly stress is just that most people start work, school and other obligations on Mondays. It may be any day before a series of things we don’t enjoy doing or feel like we “have to do” – not just Sundays. (Watch out for Manic Mondays, Terrifying Tuesdays, Weary Wednesdays, Thundering Thursdays, Fearful Fridays and maybe Sobering Saturdays!)
The following steps – part of a basic problem-solving formula – can help you guide your client to have a healthier and more pleasant “Sunday,” or whatever that “scary” day of the week is for them.
Formula for solving scary Sundays
*Note that your client can apply the following steps and strategies to any day that falls into their schedule.
1. Recognize that there is an issue.
To help your client gain further insight, you can apply the following questions: Do you experience a higher level of anxiety on Sundays? Do you have feelings of dread? Is this affecting your sleep? Relationships? Health? Is this to a point where it is affecting your quality of life? If they responded with a “yes” to any of the above, chances are your client will recognize there is an issue.
*A kind reminder that if you feel there may be other mental health concerns present, to refer the client to the appropriate resource/professional help.
2. Label, define and determine the root cause of the problem.
So, your client recognizes that every Sunday they feel miserable, anxious, not able to sleep and this is affecting their quality of life and well-being. What is behind these unpleasant, unwanted thoughts and associated reactions and emotions?
You can apply this model – and its variations – to any problem that comes along. Get more information here:
Common areas I have come across include low job satisfaction, being overworked and stressed, poor work-life balance and not doing something that aligns with their values.
After helping your client gain some clarity and awareness into their experience, help them then define the actual problem, which can be the situation and/or their reaction to the situation.
Ask your client to choose one “problem” area that they would like to focus on before moving to the next step – perhaps the issue that they feel is having the most negative impact on their quality of life.
3. Brainstorm options.
Help your client explore possible strategies and solutions. What actions can they take? What options do they have? What resources and support can they use?
Tip: Let your client really brainstorm without any “obstacles” and without your input (unless they get really stuck). Let their creativity and expertise of self come through.
4. Select one solution to try.
It is important that this is a timely, realistic solution. It does not have to be something drastic like quitting their job. It can be a small, measurable step such as laying out the clothes they will wear the night before or meal prepping for the week.
This will likely take some time and it may take a few weeks or a few months depending on the scope of the problem and solution at hand. It is important to help your client identify how they will maintain progress and accountability.
This is where your client will reflect. What worked? What didn’t? If they find the step they implemented did not work, they can go back to #3 and select another option
The problem-solving formula is just one of many ways to approach the Sunday Scaries. It is important to understand this as this may or may not work for your client. If your client has some difficulty brainstorming and implementing solutions, here are eight strategies that may help.
- Reframe and shift perspective: Avoid labelling Sunday as “Sunday Scaries” because this will then be your client’s mindset. Ask your client what another way of thinking about this day could be.
- Schedule something fun that you look forward to doing every Sunday
- Try to do large and/or anxiety-provoking tasks on the Saturday or ahead of Sunday so they don’t enter Sunday with a pile of things to do
- Take control of the situation: The above problem-solving formula is a great way to do this. Feeling a sense of control can help reduce feelings of anxiety and can make the week run smoothly, which over time, can lead to dreading Sundays a little less.
- Follow a Self-care plan: Help your client create a plan such as keeping a regular sleep cycle on the weekends, regular mealtimes, avoiding binge drinking, getting regular exercise, taking vacation time, etc.
- Try a mindfulness and/or mediation activity the night before
- Practise affirmations:e. “I have what it takes to handle the week ahead”
- Celebrate the Swedish custom of lillördag, or “little Saturday” – a custom of taking a midweek break.
Maybe we can one day work toward Sunday just being a day, a gift of time. You can choose to use that time in a state of worry and panic, or take action and either change your situation or shift perspective and change your reaction.
What will your Sunday Scenario be?