The weekends are a fantastic way to let loose, have fun, and catch up with the ones you care about. Fridays can also be really exciting with the anticipation of the weekend just around the corner. There’s the thrill of planning what to do, who to see, and where to go in the days ahead. Now you only have one more day of work to suffer through! However for some of you the weekends don’t end as fun and exciting as they start out to be. Sometimes Sundays are the worst! You know, those Sundays filled with crippling anxiety — sometimes “free floating,” and the persistent fear that something could go terribly wrong. I’m sure you’ve heard of the Sunday Scaries. Well, it turns out this is actually a legitimate condition, and a lot more common than you might think. This phenomena can happen due to multiple different factors, each of which I’ll digress into.
The Sunday Scaries can be a mixture of alcohol withdrawal, idle time, and your negative thinking patterns. During the work week you’re most likely busy trying to just get by, and keep on top of your daily routines. For most of you Fridays and Saturdays are when you schedule in relaxation time, a social outing, or catch up on some sleep you’ve been depriving yourself of. Many of you go away for the weekend, and get distracted by whatever you have planned on that trip. On the other hand Sundays tend to be the time where you head home, think about what happened during your regrettably short weekend, and run some last minute errands. After the hustle and bustle of the weekend slows down, you may find yourself home alone stuck with your negative thoughts. Like they say, idle time is the work of the devil. With enough idle time and Monday morning getting dangerously close, you start to fret about all of the work that still lies ahead.
Some of you may also party a little too hard on Friday and Saturday night, and end up overdoing it. The following Sunday morning you not only have to nurse a terrible hangover, but start feeling really emotional for “no reason”. In this case the Scaries could be related to the withdrawal from a substance; most likely alcohol. This can negatively effect your moods even after you stopped drinking, and the substance is still leaving your system. You find yourself anxious about the upcoming work week, feel lonely, start procrastinating, and dread going into work the next day. Due to this alcohol withdrawal you start worrying about all kinds of things you might not normally worry about. This anxious state could be related to the alcohol withdrawal, which can also trigger negative thoughts in relation to it.
Everyone has negative thoughts — but not all of them are unhealthy. When you feel anxious you tend to think more extreme and dramatic. You use black or white thinking, and start catastrophizing. You imagine the worst case scenarios and trick yourself into believing they’re highly likely to happen to you (even though they rarely ever do). To break free from this, start making a list of all the things you’re worried about. Under each worry, jot down what’s the most disturbing part about each one. Remember you are not your thoughts. Challenge whether your thoughts are rational or even helpful. Is this worry likely to happen to you? Where’s the evidence to support that it would be awful? Where’s the proof that you wouldn’t be able to stand it? Practice questioning the Scaries to help you break your negative thoughts down into smaller parts, and to test their validity.
Brainstorm what you could do to make your worries less likely to happen to you. Create an action plan to work towards resolving them. Write a list of all the things that need to be done before Monday. Allot enough time on the plan to account for everything so all there’s left to do is just go through the motions. Exercise and seeking out social support are also terrific ways to blast through the Scaries. Schedule all of these on your action plan as well. Don’t save anything on the plan to accomplish within the last two hours of bedtime. Use this time to unwind, sneak in a little more self-care, and let your mind rest to ensure a good night’s sleep. Dim the lights, read a calming book, light a scented candle, play some video games (relaxing ones), watch Netflix, go on your phone, or sip on some herbal tea. Try these techniques and see which ones help you make your Sundays all the less worrisome. Then start making them a regular part of your Sunday routine.