Sunday Scaries: Causes and How to Manage Them

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated July 5, 2022 | Published May 17, 2021

Updated July 5, 2022

Published May 17, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The end of a weekend often brings with it some dread for the workweek ahead. While some people look forward to tackling their goals, many worry about the week ahead and what it may bring.

The fear or anxiety about the weekend coming to a close is known as the "Sunday scaries." They're a common phenomenon among the employed. Research showed about 80% of the workforce experiences them sometimes.

In this article, we explore what the Sunday scaries are, what causes them and provide helpful tips on managing them.

Definition of Sunday scaries

Sunday scaries are anticipatory anxiety that usually reflects an individual's nervousness and occurs the evening before starting a new work week. People who work in a traditional office setting experience Sunday scaries on Sunday afternoons or evenings.

However, the Sunday scaries aren't just felt by people with regular office hours. For example, if you're an employee who has the day off on Wednesdays and works the rest of the week, you might get Sunday scaries on Wednesday evenings.

Causes of the Sunday scaries

Sunday scaries happen for several reasons. You need to identify why you experience Sunday scaries so you can ease your anxieties and prevent them from affecting your happiness and productivity. The most common causes of Sunday scaries include:

  • feeling unsatisfied with your job or career

  • wanting to take a different career path

  • nervousness and anxiety because of an overload of projects

  • unsatisfying company culture or work environment

  • having an unhealthy work-life balance

  • stressing about your upcoming responsibilities or presentations

Tips for managing Sunday scaries

Here are some helpful ways to ease your anxieties, stay motivated and keep you looking forward to the coming week:

Rest well

Studies show that sleep is essential for health and works wonders for the human mind and body. Many people skip sleep during the work week and try to compensate for it over the weekend. This type of compensatory behaviour is called accruing "sleep debt."

Research conducted on sleep debt reveals that catching up on your sleep over the weekend has equivalent results to not sleeping at all for the entire weekend. Studies state that sleep-deprived people often show quantifiable features like:

  • reduced energy expenditure

  • significant weight gain

  • excess calorie intake, especially after dinner

  • damaging changes in how the individual's body uses insulin

Other studies show that a lack of sleep causes an increase in anxiety, depression and mood changes. It's nearly impossible to reverse the effects of sleep deprivation caused during the week by compensating for it over the weekend.

Related: What to Do if You're Always Tired at Work (With Tips)

Instead, try to schedule more sleep during the work week. You can also try to add behaviours that lead to improved sleep. Some helpful suggestions are:

  • Stay consistent with your sleep and wake cycle: Always try your best to wake up and go to bed at the same time each day, including on the weekends. Setting a regular wake-up time allows your body to develop a natural clock called a circadian rhythm, preventing oversleeping.

  • Invest in your sleep area: Create a comfortable sleeping area by investing in your bedding and ensuring that your bedroom is dark, relaxing and calm. Experts recommend turning off any electronics about an hour before bedtime. Avoid sleeping on the couch and always use your bedroom to sleep. This way, your body gets used to sleeping on your bed instead of other places around the house.

  • Limit caffeine intake throughout the day: Caffeine keeps you awake at night. Avoid caffeine in the afternoon, and try to avoid alcohol at least a few hours before you go to sleep. Alcohol decreases sleep latency, which means you risk lying awake at night.

Ensure that you do all your chores on Saturday

Most people get tempted to put work-related tasks away over the weekend, only to realize later that they didn't accomplish anything productive. This can lead to feelings of disappointment.

The best way to remedy the situation is to have a to-do list of all the tasks you need starting on Friday. Finish projects as soon as possible and make the biggest tasks a priority. Knowing that you successfully checked off various items allows you to have a restful Sunday and a calm Monday morning, which means you'll feel more energized to start your week.

Foster a healthy work-life balance

Always set clear boundaries between your professional and personal life. Don't take your work home with you, and don't allow your emotions and personal issues to interfere with your work.

This might be easier said than done if you're a remote worker. If possible, designate a specific work area to avoid working from the living room where there are many distractions. Stick to a schedule and routine and set boundaries to keep your work life and home life separate.

Whenever you're at work, give it your best and leave any personal stressors at the door. Concentrate on what's in front of you and worry about the rest later, after your shift. Having a clear work-life balance helps you appreciate your time away from work.

Related: A Helpful Guide to Having a Great Work-Life Balance

Bond with your coworkers

Some people get Sunday scaries because they're not connected to their current working environment. Regardless of where you work, it's more enjoyable when you have good friends. Try to form a close bond with coworkers you can rely on for support. Having friends at the office makes you look forward to starting a new work week and being social with your colleagues. If the idea of social office interactions is not for you, consider a career where you can work alone or in smaller groups.

Related: How To Make Work Friends (With Tips for Staying Professional)

Design a healthy schedule

Make Mondays special. Schedule something fun and exciting to kick start your week on a high note, like a video call with your loved ones. Make Mondays the day you always visit your favourite bakery for some fresh croissants. These activities go a long way in giving you something to look forward to.

Be mindful when scheduling and keep Monday mornings open for tasks you enjoy. By scheduling your meetings later in the week, you give yourself space for a relaxing Monday morning. That might mean writing up the week's to-do list or reserving a block of time in which you can catch up on your emails interrupted to reduce overstimulation.

A survey on productivity peaks for workers found that Canadians are least productive on Fridays and most productive on Tuesdays. So, when planning your week, leave the biggest tasks for whenever you typically have the most energy.

Related: How Do I Create and Stick to a Daily Schedule? (With Tips)

Make Sunday evenings fun

If you design your Sundays to be fun, you'll look forward to the end of the week. The following tips help ease stress:

  • Make Sundays exclusive: Set Sundays aside for relaxing activities only. Sunday is the best time to pull out your mat if you enjoy yoga. If nature calms you, take a long hike or walk. Alternatively, curl up with a good book and some hot chocolate and relax.

  • Give yourself a treat: Make Sunday evenings more special by treating yourself to a guilty pleasure. Order takeout from your favourite restaurant. If you enjoy cooking, take out your recipe book and make an exciting dish, or bake cookies you've wanted to try. You can also give yourself a treat by taking a long bubble bath.

  • Go for a walk or jog: Getting outside for some leisurely exercise is a fantastic way to clear your mind and relax. Fresh air works wonders for reducing stress but exercising indoors is also effective. Take your pet for a stroll, meet a friend for a walk in the park or choose another outdoor activity you enjoy.

  • Listen to music: Give yourself time to relax before the start of a new week by listening to some songs or a new album from your favourite artist. Music has profound effects on both the mind and body. Choose a genre with a slow tempo or without lyrics to clear your mind.

  • Completely log off: Sundays are your day for relaxing, so let it be that way. Ignore any work-related calls and emails. Turn your phone off, be present, and enjoy your day.

Prioritizing tranquillity in your free time helps ease the anxieties brought on by the Sunday scaries and better equips you to face the new work week.

Sunday scaries are normal, and you don't need to worry whenever you experience this anticipatory anxiety. There isn't a quick solution or immediate remedy for Sunday scaries. Instead of allowing them to take over, it's best to acknowledge them, reset, shift your way of thinking and enjoy the present moment.

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