I'm A Psychologist, Here's How To Beat The Sunday Scaries

70% of professionals experience them.

It’s one thing to count down the days until the weekend, but for many of us, 70% of professionals, in fact, it’s coming back to the workplace that really takes its toll on us. The anxiety that we feel before going back to work on a Monday, or just after a couple of days off is so common that it’s actually, been given a name: ‘Sunday Scaries’.

Sunday Scaries is characterised by feelings of anxiety, dread, or uneasiness that people report feeling on Sunday evenings, typically before the standard work week starts on Monday.

What causes Sunday Scaries?

HuffPost UK spoke to Katherine Templar Lewis, a psychologist and lead scientist on The Uncertainty Experts, an organisation committed to increasing people’s tolerance to uncertainty such as making Mondays that little bit less intimidating to those experiencing Sunday Scaries.

Lewis says that while the experience of Sunday Scaries isn’t exactly new, modern life has likely had a huge impact on those that experience it. She said, “modern factors such as increased work-related stress, burnout, and the constant connectivity to work through technology may have intensified these feelings in recent years.

Social pressures, expectations of constant availability, and the blurred boundaries between work and personal life can exacerbate Sunday Scaries as has the escalating uncertainties that we face at work on a daily basis”

Lewis adds that weekend binge drinking can also potentially worsen anxiety and panic that elevates Sunday Scaries. Given that alcohol is a depressant that can affect mood and sleep quality, it makes sense that our hangovers won’t exactly be helping any anxious feelings that we’re having, even if they’re not a result of our weekend partying.

So, how do we get rid of the Sunday Scaries for good?

According to Lewis, part of the reason that we experience this is because of the unknown. She said “we want to to be able to prepare for the week ahead, to feel in control and safe, but there are so many uncertainties it’s easy to feel out of control and overwhelmed.”

However, she adds that while there is a lot we can’t control, we can change our mindset and prepare to navigate all of these uncertainties.

In the short term:

  • Plan something enjoyable for Sunday evenings, such as a favourite hobby or making plans with a loved one
  • Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or mindfulness exercises such as yoga to reduce physical anxiety
  • Avoid checking work emails or engaging in work-related tasks during the weekend to create a clear boundary between work and personal time

In the long term:

  • Assess your overall job satisfaction and ask yourself if there’s anything more fulfilling you could be doing or even just discuss your workload with supervisors
  • Prioritise self-care throughout the week to build resilience and reduce stress levels
  • Create a well-structured work-life balance to ensure there’s enough time for you, your interests, and your wellbeing in your life

Finally, Lewis adds, “It’s important to remember that individual experiences and coping mechanisms may vary, and seeking professional support from therapists or counsellors can be beneficial for those who struggle with persistent anxiety or work-related stress.”

Help and support:

  • Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393.
  • Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill).
  • CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably) offer a helpline open 5pm-midnight, 365 days a year, on 0800 58 58 58, and a webchat service.
  • The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email help@themix.org.uk
  • Rethink Mental Illness offers practical help through its advice line which can be reached on 0808 801 0525 (Monday to Friday 10am-4pm). More info can be found on rethink.org.