How to Avoid the Sunday Night Blues

Feeling anxious on your Sunday evenings?

As I write this post, there is chicken in the oven and rice on the stove top. The house smells like banana muffins and I’m surrounded by journals, notebooks, and planners.

It’s Sunday morning and I do not take this time for granted.

When I graduated from college, I started to notice a growing sense of anxiety creeping into my weekends. As Sunday evening approached, I would often find myself stressed out and feeling unprepared to start the week ahead.

In the past 10 or so years, I’ve had jobs that I’ve really enjoyed and jobs that, well, I totally hated.

When I was in a job that I totally hated, sometimes the Sunday Night Blues would sometimes kick in on Saturday.

Working one on one with clients, and witnessing first hand how the wrong job was impacting their quality of life, I realized this:

The Sunday Night Blues are not only total weekend buzzkill, they’re really a sign that something about our lives and careers is totally out of alignment.

The stress, anxiety, and uneasiness of the work week can creep into our weekends, ruining our #sundayfunday and even dampening the spirit of our Saturdays.

And I think we need to take our weekends back!

I’m going to share some strategies and ideas to help you create boundaries around your work and your work week and some tips to make your weekends restorative and productive for the week ahead.

Assess the stress

What causes you so much stress on the weekends?

Sometimes it’s just because you have a particularly busy week coming up or there is a particular project at work that feels a little out of control.

Or sometimes it’s because you have a boss who doesn’t recognize work-life boundaries and expects you to be on your email all weekend long.

And maybe it’s because you’re totally burned out on your job and the thought of going back to the office on Monday makes your stomach turn.

I think it’s important to differentiate between occasional weekend stress and more chronic Sunday Night stress.

If it’s something that you experience only on occasion, you might consider implementing some self care strategies (I have some ideas below) and enforcing some boundaries.

Here’s something that I truly believe:

If your work situation is so stressful that it chronically seeps into your personal time (evenings and weekends), you rarely have time to socialize or pursue outside interests,, and you’re always thinking about work, it’s probably time for a new job.

Honestly, the last thing people experiencing chronic burn-out and work stress want to do is one more thing — especially something as time + energy consuming as a job search.

Working with people who are too burned out to even think about moving forward is one of my specialities. I recommend signing up for my 7 Day Career Upgrade that breaks down the job search process into easy and actionable steps. I created it to help people in this situation find a new job. It’s totally free so sign up or share it with someone you know could benefit from some support!

Create boundaries

When I was in a job that I totally hated, I used to make sure to hit the gym on a Friday after work. Taking a class between work and home helped me transition out of “work mode” and back into “Jenn mode.”

Other activities to help you mentally bookend your work week could include going for a walk, meeting friends for dinner after work or a yoga class.

You don’t even need to wait until Friday to use these transitional activities. My husband took an improv class one week night a week and it helped him deal with a way-less-than-perfect job for nearly a year.

Think about what might help you mentally distance yourself from work….and do that!

Take a break

If you spend a lot of time sitting at a computer, you might schedule a couple hours each night of screen free time, giving your eyes and boy a break.

If you spend a lot of time in meetings or in a people facing role, consider blocking out some time during your week for some quiet alone time.

Conversely, if you’re role feels isolating, make sure you create time to see your friends or catch up with family.

Using your personal time to balance out the stressful parts of your position.

Reverse engineer your ideal weekend

What would it take for you to wake up feeling ready for the week on a Monday morning?

What would that mean for your weekend?

I’m a huge fan of reverse engineering routines based on an desired outcome or how I want to feel at the end of it.

This also means that your routine may look different from other people’s. That is totally okay.

It’s important to me that, when I wake up on Monday morning my clothes are clean and put away, my house is tidy and well organized, my work bag is packed, and I’ve reviewed my goals and schedule for the week.

It’s also really important that I get to spend some down time with my husband, catch up on news from the week (I’m perpetually a week behind on the news), and get some writing time in.

And I don’t feel guilty about making time to get things done that make me feel happy, accomplished and ready for the week.

I hear from a lot of people that their weekends can turn into a total #netflixandchill marathon. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, as long as you can get done what you need to and what you want to. If you need to totally veg out, don’t feel guilty about it. You deserve some time to just chill.

Create a ritual for yourself

Create a Sunday ritual that leaves you feeling refreshed and prepared.

It doesn’t have to be exhaustive.

Maybe it means…

…preparing your lunch for Monday (hence all the cooking that goes on in my kitchen on Sundays)

…having your outfits picked out for the week

…packing your gym bag the night before

…doing some journaling and planning your week

…tidying up your apartment

…catching up on paying bills

Get used to carving out some time during your weekend to knock out the stuff that you have to do so that you can shift into spending the rest of your time doing what you want to do.

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