Sad but true: longer than ever working hours, hyperconnected lives and an anxious political climate mean we’ve never been more at risk of burn-out. We’re collectively clocking up £33.6bn worth of unpaid overtime annually, we average an hour and 40 minutes on social media daily and nearly a third of us say that remote access to work means we never fully switch off.
The result? A spiral of Sunday fear impacting your sleep. Next thing, you’re hitting Monday morning with thoughts of ‘I need a holiday’ – not the energised start to a fresh week that the wellness social media set make look so easy.
“If you’ve had more than a couple of weeks of disrupted sleep, then that’s a red flag that the brain is overwhelmed,” says Juls Abernethy, a women’s wellness coach and co-founder of The Body Retreat. “Another sign than you need to slow down is having up-and-down energy during the day. If you’re relying on crutches like coffee, fizzy drinks or chocolate to get a boost through Monday, followed by slumps, it’s time to re-think how you’re doing things.”
One solution is to re-imagine how you spend your Sunday. By properly re-fuelling, you can set yourself up for greatness and the weekday AM of your dreams. Here’s how to make it happen.
1. Start a mindfulness practice
A chilled way of getting in a more restful Sunday is the simple practice of becoming aware of the breath. “Try inhaling for five seconds and exhaling for seven,” says Christopher Dines, a mindfulness trainer and author of ‘Mindfulness Burnout Prevention: An 8-Week Course for Professionals.’
“It will signal calm to the body and is a quick way of feeling more relaxed. If you’ve got more time, sit in a quiet room and practice this for 10 minutes. It doesn’t need to be a silent space – even if your home is loud, you can become aware of the noise without it irritating you.” Make this a habit on a Sunday evening, to ensure a better sleep and a raring-to-go Monday.
2. Develop a healthy relationship with tech
The average Brit picks up their phone 85 times a day. Now, we’re not doctors, but that doesn’t sound too healthy to us. “I’d encourage people to set an amount of time in which they switch their phone off and distance themselves from it – perhaps by going for a walk. It’s important to understand that you do not need to check your emails constantly – this is your weekend,” says Christopher. And as for when you come back to your device? “Try to be more mindful, by focusing on the breath every time you pick it up.”
“It would be lovely for people to switch off their phones and emails on a Friday night and not check them until Monday morning,” adds Juls.
“But that’s not realistic for most of us. Instead, set a defined time in which you engage with work-related stuff. If you take a full day away from them on Saturday but check in on Sunday to calm your nerves, so that you get a good night’s sleep which will prepare you for Monday, then that’s better than two days of checking and never allowing your mind a true break.” Essentially, be less engaged on Sunday to be more engaged Monday.
3. Practice self-care
“Just getting in touch with the body is an act of self-care,” says Christopher. “It never lies and will always let you know what’s going on – if you listen. Walking, yoga and getting in tune with your breathing all help.”
Get at least one of these in on Sunday and Monday’s sailing will be smoother.
4. Prep your breakfast
We guess this one is pre-fuel. Pop a breakfast of milk-soaked overnight oats (we love the Arla range) in the fridge overnight and top with pumpkin seeds, chopped walnuts and seasonal fruit the next day.
If you forget, try oats finished with a dollop of yoghurt and given the same nuts and fruit treatment. Delicious and Instagrammable: boom.
5. Get your exercise on
“Busy people often don’t have time to exercise during the week” says Juls. “But by making sure you get even 15 minutes on each day of the weekend, outside – skipping, jogging, whatever – you’ll be helped immeasurably, physically and mentally, to feel better when your Monday alarm clock goes off.”
6. Don’t create social jet lag
When you’ve spent the week setting the alarm for 6am, Sunday’s chance to catch up on some snooze is seriously tempting – especially if you’ve been out the night before. But doing this tells your body that you’re in a new routine and makes bedtime and getting up on a Monday tricky.
“It’s really important to try maintain a rhythm,” says Juls. Obviously you won’t wake up at exactly the same time, but if you get up at 8am, rather than 10am on the weekend, you’ll make a massive difference to the start of your week.