Sunday Scaries: 5 Ways to Cope With That Frightful Feeling

At some point in the past ten years, Sundays became scary. And I don’t mean “spoopy” scary, as in cartoon ghouls and the 12-foot skeleton at Home Depot.

I mean that every Sunday as the weekend winds down, I begin to feel a looming sense of dread, which grows larger as the day goes on, and I know I’m not the only one.

Maybe the reason for this Sunday Spooktacular is because our inability to live in the moment pushes us to preemptively mourn the coming Monday. Maybe it’s because the older we get, the faster time seems to move, and we feel a strong lack of control over the start of yet another week, month, year.

Or maybe, due to the COVID crisis, we’re feeling unable to differentiate between one week and the next, and we’re highly panicked that this sense of perpetual Groundhog’s Day is the new rotation of life.

I’m no psychiatrist, so I can’t say for sure. But now that I’ve sufficiently depleted you of your joy, let me tell you the good news: there are things you can do to make this frightening feeling less heavy. As one anxiety-ridden 20-something living in NYC during a pandemic, here are my go-to habits for ending the weekend, and starting the week, with a little less horror.

1.  Take time to rest

I usually spend a good chunk of Sundays cleaning, refreshing the mess of the week prior and trying to start on a good note. But I actually made it to 5 p.m. today before realizing, “Oh my gosh, I haven’t sat down once.”

Remember that you won’t be able to perfect your entire home in one day, and attempting to will rob you of the little moments of silence that your brain needs in order to rest and recharge.

So while it’s important to clean up your toothpaste spittle, and get all those dishes off the bedside table, it’s also important to call it quits at some point, and do something energizing, as well. I like to call this “housework/life balance.”

2. Get outside

With the seasons changing, and the sun about to go to bed much earlier, it’s especially important to get some time outdoors during the day. Here in Ridgewood, Queens, a favorite activity of mine is walking to the dog park, and maybe grabbing a coffee or a bagel on the way.

If you don’t want to go for a walk or run, sitting on the porch and listening to a podcast will do just fine. And if you don’t have a porch, open a window or curtain! I have recently acquired the first backyard of my adulthood, and pulling weeds out there for even five minutes makes me feel more connected and grounded.

3. Get ahead of surprises

By “surprises,” I don’t mean things that literally jump out and scream, “BOO!” I mean, get ahead of whatever it is that catches you off guard every week. Some easy ways to do this are:

  • Take five minutes Sunday evening to look at your work calendar and understand your schedule for the week. Even if it looks stressful, you’ll feel better knowing what’s coming.
  • Sign into your bank account or app and get an overview of everything you spent over the weekend. It’ll help you understand how to budget in the week ahead.
  • Speaking of budgeting, look in your pantry and fridge and make sure you have food for the week! I’m always surprised by either how much of my groceries I’ve used, or what’s gone bad, which leads to ordering expensive delivery meals.
  • Look at your calendar and think about the days and times where you’d be able to exercise. Planning ahead often increases the likelihood that you’ll do it!

4. Stretch before bed 

Stretching or doing some light yoga before bed are both great ways to wind down and prepare a racing mind for sleep. If you’re new to this, there’s no reason to be intimidated –plenty of YouTube videos will lead you through a few simple movements.

One of my favorites is Yoga With Adriene, who helps you get ready for bed in as little as 12 minutes. That’s about a third of the time I’ve been known to spend scrolling Tiktok before bed; I might as well redirect that time to something good for my mind and body!

Another option is to spend a few minutes meditating. Both the Calm app and Headspace are great places to start, or you could also search something such as “bedtime meditation” again on YouTube. Even 5-10 minutes of mindful meditation could change the way you start your week.

5. Treat yourself

One overall shift I’ve tried to make in my life lately is to start looking at little lovelies, such as drinking a cup of warm tea, reading a few chapters of a book, or lighting a yummy candle, as “treats.”

These aren’t expensive or complicated, and they make me feel as though I’ve done something special. Sunday nights are a great time to intentionally indulge in your own type of treats, which I define as anything simple that brings you joy.

End the day being grateful.

Some excellent advice I’ve received from my colleagues is to begin a daily gratitude journal, in which I record three things about that day for which I am grateful or proud of. If I’m being honest with you, sometimes my journal says things like, “I’m grateful this day is over.” And that’s okay!

It’s not about toxic positivity here; it’s about creating a simple habit that pulls you out of the routine of life and encourages you to peer in at yourself with a softer view.

I think Sundays might always be scary. As a person who lives with severe anxiety, I may need to accept that there is no one cure to my personal fear of Everything All The Time.

But, as the sun sets new boundaries with the sky, I can set boundaries with my week, look at my anxiety as anticipation, and decide that to be afraid is simply a privilege of being alive.

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