For those of us who have experienced the “Sunday Scaries,” I think we can all agree that they are nothing to be taken lightly. In fact, I’d consider these feelings of dread on a Sunday as one of my least favorite experiences imaginable. Luckily, there are ways to fight off the Sunday scaries that can help all of us to tackle the anxiety with ease. No, these tactics won’t erase any mistakes you made the night before, but they can at least help subside the anxiety that’s now associated with those mistakes.
What exactly are the Sunday scaries? I like to classify them as feeling of doom that sets in on a Sunday morning, usually following a long night (or weekend) of too much drinking, too much spending, and too much drunk texting. You wake up not really knowing who you are, where you are, or the location of any of your important items, like your credit card or license. As you slowly begin to piece the puzzle together and locate your belongings, it seems the feelings become worse and worse somehow. (Sometimes I’m laughing all morning about the events of the weekend, only to have the scaries kick in around 1 p.m., and then I’m crying like a baby.) Rather than spending another Sunday like this, let’s talk about ways to nix the problem right from the moment you wake up. Here are 11 easy ways to fight off the Sunday scaries, according to experts.
1. Get Your Mind Right
One of the first things you should do when trying to overcome the Sunday scaries is to get your mind in the right place to actually do so. Executive coach and founder of Peloton Coaching and Consulting Michael O’Brien suggested turning around anything negative thinking you might be having, and focusing on the positive when trying to overcome Sunday anxiety. O’Brien spoke to Fast Company and noted as the negative thoughts come into your mind, try to immediately think of the positive associated with it. So, if part of the stress is that you can’t imagine having to be back in your office the next day, think instead of all the benefits of your job — let’s say it pays you really well, or you get free lunch every day, or you work with your best friend — there has to be something.
“Sometimes, you really need to think about what the benefits to all of these things are,” O’Brien told the outlet. “That can help you see things in a new light.”
2. Practice Active Leisure
Sitting around moping about bad decisions made the night before is certainly not going to help your case. Instead, try to get in some active leisure. To avoid the blues on a Sunday, Cassie Mogilner, Ph.D., a happiness researcher and an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, suggested just that to Real Simple. This means getting up and doing something — anything — that you enjoy. Mogilner told the outlet, “If you’re engaged in an activity that keeps you moving, you’re absorbed in the moment and your mind has much less room to allow workweek worries to sneak in and take hold.”
3. Distract, Distract, Distract
On that note, try to remain as distracted as possible throughout the day. I personally know how hard it can be to do so (sometimes the thoughts of how I behaved the night before can feel like they’re eating me up inside… literally!), but staying distracted can and will be helpful. Steven Meyers, professor of psychology at Roosevelt University in Chicago, Ill., spoke to Huffington Post on the topic, and noted, “Feelings of anxiety and depression are most common when the person is not particularly busy. So enjoyable activities that redirect your attention are especially important.” Meyers said this will help prevent the dread from creeping up.
4. Clean Up
You woke up following a night of heavy drinking, let’s say, and besides the awful hangover you’re battling, your apartment seems to have taken the brunt of your alcohol-induced evening too. Everything is a complete and total disaster. While cleaning might not be your favorite thing to do at this very moment, it could actually make you feel a whole lot less anxious. Andrew Weil, M.D., suggested on his website www.DrWeil.com that getting organized might be a great way to get your thinking away from the week ahead and into the present moment instead. Try blasting your favorite Pandora station (my go-to is Motown Radio) and focusing on the here and now while putting things back in place. Likewise to not thinking about the week ahead, try to not dwell on anything the happened the day or night before.
5. Make Sure You're Hydrated
Getting enough water is important every day, but it could prove especially important on those dreaded Sundays following a night of perhaps one-too-many cocktails. I spoke via email to Rachel Baer, RDN, for more insight into how water plays into the mix. "Staying hydrated during and after a night of drinking is so important — especially during the summer months — because alcohol has a diuretic effect, meaning it can dehydrate the body," Baer says. "Although dehydration is not considered to be the main cause of hangovers, it may contribute to symptoms like thirst, headache, fatigue, and dry mouth."
The good news? That aspect can be avoided by drinking enough water — Baer suggests starting by drinking a glass of water (or other non-alcoholic beverage) between each alcoholic drink when you're out the night before. Then, have about 16 ounces of water before you go to sleep, and keep a glass beside you as you're sleeping in case you need a sip throughout the night. Then, on Sunday keep the fluids coming, Baer says. "Continue to rehydrate the next day by drinking a glass of water when you wake, eating water-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and broth-based soups, and keeping a large water bottle with you to drink from throughout the day," Baer suggests.
6. Go For A Walk
Walking is an excellent way to fight anxiety, according to the experts at CalmClinic.com, so this goes for those dreadful Sunday feelings as well. According to the site’s experts, walking allows us to copy with anxiety more effectively, so hit the pavement. All it takes is a quick 10 to 15 minutes to start reaping the benefits.
7. Get Social
How many times have you had the Sunday scaries and wanted to just pull a blanket over your head for the entire day and not see a single sole? You might actually be doing more harm than good by hiding out. According to Mogilner, connecting with others can benefit you big time when you’re trying to get past those horrible Sunday feelings — particularly if you’re doing so face-to-face. Real Simple noted many studies agree with this notion — that being less social can mean being less happy. So, get out there and hang out with your BFF. Just being around him or her can make a big difference in how you handle the day.
8. Choose Your Brunch Meal Wisely
Now that you’ve committed to adding a social aspect to your day, you’ve landed in a seat at brunch and are debating on what to order. Tempted to opt for something heavy on the carbs? Think again. If you choose something card-loaded, you’re risking a crash later on, according to Keri Gans, a NYC-based nutritionist. Gans suggested to Cosmopolitan that a better choice would be something that offers a mix of protein and fiber.
9. Write It Out
You’ve spent the morning actively keeping yourself distracted from the dooming thoughts, but now let’s think about if those thoughts are still there, and if they seem as damning as they might have earlier in the day. It’s time to write them out. James Campbell Quick, professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior at The University of Texas at Arlington, suggested to Huffington Post that writing down precisely the things that are bothering you can be helpful at this point to moving past them. He told the outlet, “It’s a catharsis to get it out on paper ... It’s like flushing a toilet: You get it out on paper and you have flushed your system out. Plus, when you go back and look at it you may realize that some of what you’re thinking and feeling is a little off reality.”
10. Treat Yourself
There’s nothing wrong with doing a little something nice for yourself, and what better day to do it than on a Sunday? According to Nataly Kogan, CEO of Happier Inc., a good way to avoid having a bad mindset heading into Sunday evening is to treat yourself to something nice. Perhaps for you this means doing a little shopping in the latter part of the afternoon, or maybe it’s something as simple as making yourself an extra special dinner. Whatever it is that makes you feel good.
11. Try A Few Moments Of Meditation
A last and final tactic for overcoming the anxiety the day posed to you is ending on a few minutes of mediation. Kelli Hyland, M.D., a psychiatrist who practices in Salt Lake City, Utah, suggested to Psych Central that mediation is an effective way to quickly and simply reduce anxiety. Specifically, Hyland suggested, “Picture yourself on a river bank or outside in a favorite park, field or beach. Watch leaves pass by on the river or clouds pass by in the sky. Assign [your] emotions, thoughts [and] sensations to the clouds and leaves, and just watch them float by.”
Next time you wake up on a Sunday morning and feel that dread set in before you even fully open your eyes, remember that there are, in fact, ways around having an anxiety-ridden day. By following some of the tips discussed here, you can help yourself to successful navigate the Sunday scaries with ease.