So it's Sunday and you're spending the entire day dreading Monday. The Sunday scaries are real, but there is a way to make them less overwhelming. Exercise. What's more, the best workout for the Sunday scaries can also help reduce stress during the work week. In today's always-connected culture, stressing about the barrage of emails and meetings that await you Monday morning can paralyze you into staying inside all day Sunday marathoning Netflix. While this is a perfectly acceptable way to pass the time, getting out of your head and out of your bed can go a long way toward relieving your Sunday-scaries anxiety.
Exercise is a proven way to reduce stress, however your Sunday scaries workout shouldn't be a rigorous routine that actually creates more stress than it relieves. "The point of the activity should be to enjoy your time and feel energized and active, not to produce yet another success," Heather Silvestri, an NYC-based psychologist, told Lindsey Metrus for Byrdie, adding that outdoor, non-goal oriented exercise is the best medicine for the Sunday scaries. "The success is giving yourself time to engage your body and mind in vigorous, healthy activity." This means getting outside for a hike, bike ride, swim, yoga on the beach or at the park, or whatever outdoor activity is your jam.
If you want to take it easy, you can also engage in a little shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, the Japanese practice of spending time in the natural world. "It is simply being in nature, connecting with it through our senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. Shinrin-yoku is like a bridge," Dr. Qing Li, author of Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness, wrote for TIME magazine. "By opening our senses, it bridges the gap between us and the natural world."
One of the reasons getting outside is so effective is because, according to a study sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and published in the Journal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology, the average American spends 87 percent of their time indoors and another 6 percent in cars. Changing up your routine in small ways to allow yourself to get outside more can have big returns where your health and wellness is concerned.
Another study published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology noted that even spending just a little more time outside walking can have significant positive impacts on your mood, which just might help relieve your Sunday scaries anxiety. "In a meta-analysis of 10 studies, they found that getting outside — and moving — for as little as five minutes at a time improved both mood and self-esteem."
What's more, the more stressed you are about the work week, the more important it is for you to spend at least five minutes outside every day, preferably surrounded by trees or water. "You get a very substantial benefit from the first five minutes. We should be encouraging people in busy and stressed environments to get outside regularly, even for short bits of time," study author Jules Pretty of University of Essex in the UK noted. "After that, increased green exercise continues to add benefit."
As experiencing the benefits of the natural world is becoming more important to people, apartments, office buildings, and public spaces are being designed with this in mind. "Recent evidence suggests that these benefits have important psychological and physiological benefits to humans as well as potentially influencing overall human health and well-being via immune system function and disease prevention," a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America noted in reference to the green building movement.
So, if you regularly spend all day in bed Sunday riddled with anxiety about Monday, get up, put your phone on do not disturb, and go to the park for a walk, run, hike, bike ride, or even roller skating adventure. Stay off social media, and don't open your work email. DIGIDAY likened social media and the internet to Hotel California. While it's a song by the Eagles from the '70s, the message is more relevant than ever: "You can check out any time you want, but you can never leave." However, there is a silver lining because "check out" is the key term when it comes to the Sunday scaries.
Give yourself permission to check the hell out. Go tech-free and spend some time moving your body in nature. If you're feeling bajiggity during the work week, turn your phone off and take a forest bath or go for a walk. Even five minutes helps, and you can definitely replace five minutes of Twitter scrolling with a walk in the park. Keep a journal to chart your progress and see if you feel less anxious after 30 days. You just might be surprised that the Sunday-scaries cure you've been seeking has been right outside your front door all along.