After a glorious weekend with family and friends, where perhaps there was time spent in the park, at the movies, drinking wine or revving up with a run or long walk—by 4ish pm on Sunday, something changes. Full hearts and energized minds make way for the stomach pit, the swirl and chest constriction. Our children and friends are still in their weekends. They’re making jokes, doing tricks on the monkey bars and attempting everything within their power to summon our attention. Because it’s clear, we’re not there.
We’re in to-do lists, high-stake meetings, rehashing Friday mistakes, imagining worst-case scenarios—essentially stewing in a bad case of the Sundays.
Know that whether you are in a toxic work situation or in a job you love in which you may be taking on more responsibility—this is an absolutely understandable reaction to winding down your time off and reigniting your week. That said, there are some things you can do to proactively handle the anxiety that is robbing you of the last chunk of your weekend.
Here are a few ways I approach the Sundays with clients so that they have a leg up on the week ahead:
1. Hold a Sunday planning meeting
Instead of wondering how you’re going to do it all in the week in front of you, get honest and in action about a plan to do so. Schedule time for an hour on Sunday where you can contain your planning for the week. It can be any time that works for you—feel free to experiment with different times of day. This way, you have one focused hour, where you make your to-do list, set intentions for meetings throughout the week and know what you need to prepare ahead of time instead of walking into a shit-storm without a plan. Your planning meeting also gives you the opportunity to shut down your anxiety throughout the rest of the day with a simple, "I don’t have to focus on that now. I’ll handle it in my planning meeting later today."
2. Create a Sunday mantra
Use Sunday as an opportunity to practice presence and as a chance to build up your resilience muscle. You have this in you. You do it every week. Now celebrate yourself moving through a tough day with strength and compassion. When I take my daughters and the puppy for a walk on Sunday evening after dinner, and I feel a moment of the weight of what I have to do, I like to say something as simple as, "Be here now." I notice smiles, giggles and tail wagging, and keeping focused on these details helps me return to the moment.
3. Add self-care time into Sunday
Do SOMETHING that energizes you on Sunday. For me, it’s a walk in Prospect Park. Simply being in nature offers up the peace that can be an antidote for the churn of Sunday overwhelm. If you say yes to things that are everyone else’s priority and no to the things that are meaningful to you—you are setting that reactive tone for the week. When you give yourself time to do things that refuel you, you can put those fragmented parts of your mind back together to start the week as a whole human.
4. Block out time for a slow Monday morning (if possible)
If you are even mildly in charge of your work day and schedule, make a practice of blocking out one to two hours on Monday morning to have a slow start. Focus on catch up tasks and say hello to colleagues and your team if that’s something that energizes you. When I was in a corporate office, I used to think of this time as "relationship building" hours when I would catch up on people’s weekends and see how they’re doing. Connection is one of my top values, so it makes sense to me now that this is where I focused my time to recharge on Monday am. Now that I have my own business, I spend most of my Monday mornings writing. No big surprise, but I get my best article ideas on the weekends so I’m usually hungry to get writing once Monday morning hits. It’s a way for me to ease into the week doing something I love.
If you begin feeling the Sundays at 10 am or blasphemy—Saturday night, it may be best to seek some professional help to work through the anxiety that’s coming up for you. Whether it’s a bad boss, a role that’s a wrong fit or simply knowing it’s time to move on—when your work pressure takes over your entire life—it’s time to look into what’s going on. As painful as it can be, that anxiety is your body trying to send you the message, "Buddy, we’re not OK. Investigate ASAP." We often think our minds are leading the way, but truly it’s our bodies that have all the answers—and when we listen, we are rewarded with the peace we seek.