How to Get Rid of Those “Sunday Scaries”

Sarah Deane: Founder MEvolution
4 min readFeb 8, 2023

With the holidays a distant memory and 2023 in full swing, many have returned to feelings of overwhelm when it comes to their struggle to stay on top of daily demands. Studies in recent months have demonstrated the rise of the “Sunday Scaries”. That feeling of dread that rolls around as the week is about to start again. In fact it was found, in a poll conducted for the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID), that nearly 7 in 10 people feel this way regularly.

What Causes the Sunday Scaries

For the majority of people who experience the Sunday Scaries, it’s often rooted in the mind over rotating on what’s to come. This can occur after a period of time, like over the weekend, where the mind was preoccupied with other thoughts, often which are more present- minded on fun plans for the day, relaxing, or catching up on household tasks at a more leisurely pace. The mind’s focus on Sunday night is usually a look-ahead at what the week’s demands will be — either professionally or personally, and that can often have a tendency to overwhelm a person.

These feelings, such as the anticipated stress of the week ahead or the concern that the weekend was well spent, can literally impact just about anyone, with or without a clinical diagnosis of depression or anxiety. It can be the mind’s way of telling you, “Hey you have something on the horizon that you might want to plan ahead for!” Or, “Maybe something is off and you want reflect a little more on what’s going on.” And that’s okay! As humans, we intrinsically feel a fight or flight response to conflict, and the Sunday Scaries can easily be mistaken for a situation we might want to rail against or conversely, avoid outright. But neither of these responses is the answer.

Combating the Sunday Scaries

You may sometimes find yourself thinking, “just get over it”. Or upon sharing your feelings with others be told things like, “it is what it is”. This can certainly feel dismissive in a time when validation of emotions is paramount, especially when someone is experiencing a flood of anxious or unsettling thoughts. In most forms of talk therapy, the first step is to “name it to tame it.” That means identifying what it is that’s troubling you, so you can work through it. And sometimes working through it is simply acknowledging that the feeling is there.

I work with a lot of employees, leaders, professional women and students in higher education, and a common initial response to our work is a feeling of a weight being lifted when we get to the point of them sharing what it is that is troubling them, be it a looming project deadline or a conflict with another individual. The mind can’t fix a problem that isn’t acknowledged in the first place.

The work begins with identifying what you are feeling and naming the emotion — a starting point to interrupting the pattern. A person who wants to change how they react needs to first identify their automatic thoughts and how they typically respond to a situation. In this case, it might be a sense of panic, fear, or paralysis that initially is felt. Then, you can delve deeper and look at the reasons why, the trigger causing the emotion, and begin to work on addressing it.

The best way to deal with these Sunday night feelings is to acknowledge them and formulate a plan of action that settles your mind and quiets the unease. And the good news is there are ways to reframe the sense of anxiety that the Sunday Scaries elicit and retrain your mind to think differently!

Everything takes practice. The mind may be incredibly adaptable, but it needs to be trained to think in a certain way and reinforce the natural tendency toward the behavior you want, not your default response. So, if you often find yourself over thinking on Sunday night with a general or specific sense of dread about something looming in front of you, there are a few simple tricks to start the retraining process.

  1. Make it a simple practice on Friday afternoon to help out your Sunday self! Take a look at what you have for the week ahead and make a few specific plans for how you’ll address them.
  2. Identify something you are looking forward to in the next week. And if you find your answer is nothing, then plan something into your schedule. It could be catching up with a friend, a walk, or some TV time!
  3. When you start feeling the Sunday Scaries, open whichever App you use for taking notes, or grab a pen and paper, and write down what’s troubling you. If you are comfortable, you may even want to share how you are feeling with a spouse, a trusted friend or family member. Then, take a look at each of the items and decide how you will address and prioritize these them. Give yourself the space to challenge your thoughts, and ask yourself what you know to be true? More often than not, you’ll see there isn’t as much pressure attached to them as you automatically thought, and with a clearer plan of action, the worry naturally starts to fade away. Over time, journaling your thoughts will help you see patterns that you may need to address.
  4. If the simpler hacks can’t seem to get the Sunday Scaries to fade, you may want to consider what truly energizes you and if your current environment supports that. Or even consider seeking out the help of a professional: a life coach, a wellness advisor, therapist, or psychiatrist. We all can benefit at different times in our lives from these resources!

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Sarah Deane: Founder MEvolution

Energizing souls by relinquishing blockers, reclaiming mental capacity, restoring energy, and redefining human potential. www.JoinTheMEvolution.com