Set Your Week Right
It's no secret that Sunday night might be the saddest time of the week. Sure, we've tried to reclaim it (making it "Funday") but, more often than not, feelings of dread, anxiety, and loneliness creep up as Monday looms nearer.
But turning Sunday around is possible. Here's how to combat those end-of-weekend blues, no matter what type you experience.
If You Feel Nervous
Maybe you have a presentation, interview, or review in the coming week. It's natural to feel worried — but you don't want this stress to ruin your much-needed recharge time.
To fight this feeling, "Scan your future week for positives, which switches the part of your brain that is processing the week from the amygdala to the prefrontal cortex," says Shawn Achor, positive psychology expert and contributor to Live Happy magazine. "This [changes your brain from] stressing to searching for meaning and solutions."
Practicing a speech you will give or going over interview questions with a friend will also make you feel more prepared, which can help stave off worries.
If You Feel Dread
Find a happiness booster, Achor suggests. "The brain cannot process both negative and positive at the same time, so replace the negative thought with a positive attention grabber," he advises. "Watching even a five-minute silly YouTube video or a funny sitcom activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which rebuilds your body and focuses your brain." See? Those mindless (yet amazing) cat videos really do make a positive difference.
If you still feel a sense of dread, get moving. Doing something active, like taking a walk or doing a short workout video, will boost your endorphin levels, which can shake you out of that funk. At the very least, you’ll feel proud of yourself for exercising.
If You Feel Anxious
It’s easy to feel uneasy about the week ahead, especially if you have a lot on your plate — from multiple deadlines to laundry that still hasn’t been folded.
One tactic that will help you shed that anxiety is to step back and celebrate. "Take a moment to think about all of the accomplishments you had in the past week," says psychotherapist Stacy Kaiser. "Pat yourself on the back, throw some confetti, and celebrate the good moments." Then take some time to set positive goals for the week so you can move forward to greater success and happiness.
If your past week was terrible — or maybe even totally screwed up, which is why you’re feeling anxious now — call a friend and vent. Getting your feelings out, instead of keeping them bottled up or replaying thoughts over and over in your mind, will help ease those twinges of worry.
If You Feel Lonely
When you're single, it might feel like weekends tend to be reserved for partners and families … leaving you flying solo. In these moments of loneliness, make plans. "I always try to schedule something I look forward to on Mondays and Tuesdays," says public relations professional Jessica Douglas, who's used this tip to beat the Sunday blues. "Whether it's lunch with a friend, a favorite workout class, or a FaceTime date with a pal who lives out of state, having something to look forward to helps so much. Instead of dreading Monday morning, my energy shifts to anticipating my fun plans."
If you need something more immediate, surprise a friend by writing him or her a letter, or stock up on birthday cards you can send to wish friends and family happy days in the future.
If You Feel a Sense of Monotony
"Sunday is the signal that the party is over and a prelude to something much worse: the dreaded workweek," says women's lifestyle design strategist Cindi C. Rose, author of Lovely, Brave & Brilliant.
Dedicate the day to self-care to give yourself a boost. "If we begin to make Sunday a day of refreshing and renewing ourselves, we can approach the workweek in a totally different frame of mind," Rose says. "Sunday should be a ritual of relaxing, doing yoga, and curling up with a good book. Taking care of yourself is the ultimate pick-me-up." Mondays won't feel so blah when you've been rejuvenated.
If You Feel Disorganized or Unproductive
Perhaps Sunday night suddenly comes and you’re annoyed at yourself for getting nothing done. "Sometimes we set lofty goals for what we can or should accomplish on the weekends, and often projects and errands take longer than expected," says Carrie Krawiec, licensed marriage and family therapist and executive director of Michigan Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. "We may feel like a failure if we don't get everything accomplished."
Feeling more organized is as simple as making a to-do list, says Paula Felps, science editor at Live Happy. "Write down what you want/need to accomplish that week and put it in your calendar. Making to-do lists can sometimes seem overwhelming because it reminds you of what you need to do," she says. "But it also makes the tasks more manageable because you can organize them. And you’ll feel great as you tick off each item you’ve completed. Putting it in writing gives you a road map and makes it less overwhelming."
To feel productive instantly, take the easiest, most fun, or least time-consuming thing on your list and do it right away.
If You Feel Burned Out From the Weekend
You've just had two glorious days off work but, for some reason, you feel totally drained. Recharge by giving your brain a rest, suggests Achor.
"Burnout occurs when your brain resources have been depleted," he says. "The best way to replenish them is to decrease the amount of information your brain is processing. Try to decrease the noise in your life by just five percent by muting commercials, or turning off the radio for the first five minutes in a car, or meditating for two minutes."
Another cause of burnout, of course, comes from having a little too much fun on Saturday night. Increased alcohol consumption on the weekend, and the resulting poor sleep, will definitely affect how you feel Sunday night. "Tiredness is going to leave us susceptible to irritability, low motivation, fatigue, and other symptoms of depression," says Krawiec. Drinking lots of water and getting some exercise will help combat this sluggishness.
If You Feel Unmotivated
Maybe the reason you're feeling not-so-stoked about the week ahead is rooted in the fact that you no longer enjoy or believe in what you're doing. "People can become dissatisfied with their jobs and feel an overall lack of fulfillment and purpose in what they do each day," Rose says. "Many people are not living up to their potential and it can become an erosive emotion."
If your current job isn’t inspiring you, maybe it’s time to look at ways to motivate yourself outside the job, Felps says. "Look for volunteer opportunities — helping someone else can be an excellent way to change your perspective and reignite the fire inside," she suggests. "Or consider the value of education — learning something new, whether it’s continuing education related to your profession or pursuing a hobby or craft you’re interested in, is a great way to re-engage the brain."
If you really just need to start looking for a new job, dedicate some time on Sunday evening to researching options for your next move. Doing this probably won't make you look forward to going into the office the next day, but you'll be taking a step in the right direction for your future happiness.
If You Just Feel Unhappy
In many cases, you might not be able to pinpoint exactly how you're feeling — it's just more of a general sense of unhappiness. (Hence the "sad" reputation Sunday has.)
"It may sound cheesy, but count your blessings," Felps advises. "Keep a gratitude journal and write down three things you’re happy for. Then, focus on those throughout your day. For example: Think about the rewards your job gives you — like paying for your car or allowing you to work with people you like." This practice could lead to regular journaling, which can be an effective way to work through your feelings.