I don’t like Mondays, never really have. Although I enjoy my job most days, I’ll usually come down with a case of the blues that starts on Sunday afternoon and builds into the evening. You know, the “Sunday Scaries”—that nagging feeling of dread and anxiety about the week ahead because you’re just not quite ready to face everything that comes with it.
I think, for me at least, the angst is a lot about getting back into the groove of things after a couple of days off, and changing my mindset from play back to work. When you leave the office and unplug for the weekend, that freedom and flexibility is hard to give up for the 9-5 grind.
Instead of enjoying the weekend, I’m worrying about the week. Instead of soaking up the last few hours, I’m obsessing over how fast they’re dwindling. Instead of rejuvenating my mind and body, I’m stressing out.
So when my alarm goes off on Monday morning, it takes me a couple snoozes to crawl out from under my covers. Without fail, that slow start carries into my morning and my afternoon, and before I know it, the day is over and I don’t have much to show for the past eight hours except for a monster to-do list that I now have to squeeze into the next four days.
Instead of feeling productive, I’m dragging. Instead of feeling accomplished, I’m overwhelmed. Instead of feeling motivated, I’m defeated.
The way you approach a situation directly influences what you get out of it. If you go in with a negative attitude, you’re probably going to have a negative experience. If you go in with a positive attitude, you’re probably going to have a positive experience.
You have to change your mind about Monday. The bad news is the Sunday Scaries are real; the good news is you can beat them. It’s just going to take a conscious effort on your part.
There are things you can do to make the transition from the weekend to the weekday easier and more productive. Here is how you can adjust your Sunday routine to set yourself up for a successful Monday, and week in general:
1. Don’t sleep the day away.
I’m not saying you have to wake up at the crack of dawn, but don’t spend the day in bed, either. The longer you sleep, the less you’re going to be able to get done, which just means the more you’re putting off until Monday. You’ll be behind before you even get started; it’s one reason Monday gets such a bad rap. So get up so you have time to do what you need to do to feel prepared for tomorrow.
If you’re not a natural early riser, set an alarm so you at least don’t sleep into the double digits.
2. Do your chores.
As unglamorous as tidying up is, it really does have positive benefits. The actual act of cleaning, maybe not so much (at least not for me). But the feeling you get afterward? Total satisfaction. You feel good. You feel in control—on top of things, which is a good start to shifting your mindset away from overwhelm. Plus, if you get your chores out of the way on Sunday morning, you won’t have to think about them again, for a little while at least. Points for Monday!
Make your bed, do the dishes and a couple of loads of laundry, and tidy up first thing in the morning.
3. Prep for Monday.
Much like tidying up, being prepared is a good way to create calm, the same way not being prepared can create anxiety. By getting ready for the week before it starts, you’ll wake up ready to go and able to focus on the get-to-do’s, not the have-to-do’s, before and after work.
Make a grocery list and go to the store, so you can meal prep lunches and plan dinners ahead of time. Run errands like filling up at the gas station and picking up prescriptions from the pharmacy.
4. Get organized.
Writing out your to-do list for the week before it even begins helps you create order out of chaos. Instead of bottling up everything on your mind and low-key stressing over how you’re going to get it all done while you’re simultaneously ignoring it by binge-watching Netflix, get it down on paper. You’ll free up your mind and feel less anxious for tomorrow, knowing you have a plan. Which sets you up for a productive week.
Don’t wing it. Do a brain dump: Write down everything that you have to do this week, and then prioritize it.
5. Get moving.
When you exercise, your body releases feel-good endorphins—that activity reduces stress, improves your mood, and clears your mind, making you more energized and more productive. You know this and I know this, but when the Sunday Scaries actually start creeping in, what do you do? Hide under your covers and feed the angst? Or get moving and fight it?
Try going for a walk around the neighborhood, hitting the gym, or signing up for yoga. Or Pilates. Or spin class.
6. Take care of yourself.
Yes, you’re a busy person, and yes, there’s so much to do, but you have to make time for yourself, too. By scheduling some “me time” on Sunday afternoon or evening, after all your chores and before bed, you’ll reset your mind and body, and come out on the other side a new person: positive, present, and ready to get sh*t done when your alarm goes off in the morning.
Do things that make your soul happy. Take a bubble bath. Read a good book. Write in your journal.
7. Change your mind about Monday.
None of these things will cure the Sunday Scaries if you don’t also change your thinking. You have to stop seeing Monday as a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, and you have to start looking at it for all of its possibilities: the opportunity it presents for a good start, the opening it gives you for a productive week.