A Mental Health Expert’s Takes On The Sunday Scaries—Why The Relatable Feeling Is Probably More Serious Than We Realize

Friyay! Saturdaze! Sunday…scaries?

If you’ve ever felt a sense of dread as the hours tick away on Sunday, you’re not alone. Turns out many of us regularly experience Sunday Scaries, which is a phenomenon in which anxiety sets in as the start of the workweek approaches.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that more than a quarter of a recent survey’s respondents (26%) – including about a third of Generation Z (32%) and Millennials (34%) – have a harder time falling asleep on Sunday nights compared to other times of the week. Why? Work stress.

“The anxiety and angst of the Sunday Scaries trigger our natural defenses of flight, fight or freeze because our brain associates work with negative experiences and the perceived threat that returning to work poses,” said Pia Johnson who is the owner of Transformation Counseling Services and a licensed social worker.

Another survey found that 73% of Americans regularly lose out on rest due to worrisome thoughts about their job.

“The high rate of anxiety related to Sunday Scaries to several issues one main cause is due to a lack of workplace policy that creates a culture of well-being and psychological security for employees,” Johnson said. “This begins with upper management supporting their team members and developing a supportive work culture that encourages work-life balance. Also, the stress of excessive workloads, lack of clarity in job roles, and unexpected shifts and expectations worsen under the stress of work or in response to work. This has left many people feeling overwhelmed and sometimes leads to toxic unhealthy work culture.”

Taijah Bell, a Georgia-based licensed therapist says it’s important to practice mindfulness to help combat feeling low by the time Sunday rolls around.

“Being intentional about your mood going into the new week is incredibly important,” Bell told ESSENCE. ” Ask yourself about what are some intentional things you can put in place on a Monday morning that will set the tone for your week? If you’re someone who may have a more of a flexible schedule, maybe having an extra hour in the morning before you go to work to maybe stop and get your favorite breakfast, maybe journaling in the morning, whatever self care activities look like for you. For me, that may be prayer on a Monday morning. I may usually go into work at eight with a Monday. I might push it back and go into work at nine. That way I can have that hour setting the tone for my week. If you are someone who doesn’t have as much of a flexible schedule, maybe getting up a little earlier to kind of feed into yourself on Monday mornings, but really trying to create avenues for joy on a Monday morning can really make a difference for you.”

Although the issue is pervasive, Johnson also says there’s hope.

“Ways in which workers can manage the Sunday Scaries are to embrace grounding and mindfulness practices that help them stay present and focus on the here and now instead of the upcoming week,” said Johnson. “Those techniques can include guided meditation, breathing exercises, and yoga and also, reframing negative self-talk and avoiding catastrophizing and polarizing language which can lead to self-fulling prophecy. Setting positive intentions for the upcoming week and writing them down can also be an effective tool. I also think it is essential to reevaluate your job, this may be a clear sign that this is not the right job, role, or company for you. Finally, if you find that you have done all you can and the symptoms do not become more manageable, I suggest seeking out a therapist that can assist you on your journey.”

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