A few years ago, I had just started a new job – a real 9-5 with paid holiday, a pension and the stability and security that came along with it; the office job of all office jobs. I expected myself to settle into my new cubicle and be content to do so for the next chapter of my life, and yet a few months in I found myself calling my partner most lunch breaks to tell him how anxious I was.
Not the dream beginning to my new career that I had imagined.
Starting something new is always exciting. As the saying goes, Change is as Good as a Rest. Unfortunately, while expecting to feel a sense of calm in my new position, the reality is that my job, the place where I spent the majority of my waking hours, was skyrocketing my anxiety.
If this sounds at all familiar, like myself, you may have also began to get the Sunday Blues.
The Sunday Blues can best be described as that awful feeling of dread we feel as our carefree weekend comes to a close. Some people might start to feel physically sick on a Sunday afternoon or begin to feel less and less inclined to go out and do anything; focusing instead on the dwindling hours of precious freedom left before the work week begins.
In scientific terms, these feelings can be described as anticipatory anxiety; the sense of worry, fear or dread before an event occurs.
You might recognize this type of anxiety before a big exam, a dentist’s appointment, handing in a letter of resignation or, if you’re like me, on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
While Sunday sadness can rear it’s head for a number of reasons, you certainly aren’t alone if you sense it nearing the closer the start of the workweek becomes. As many of us know, it’s extremely easy to get wrapped up and overwhelmed in our careers. When we strive to do well at work, the aim is to be appreciated and acknowledged and it’s natural to feel anxious when something threatens to compromise that. A staff meeting not going exactly to plan or a coworker sending an email with a slightly more blunt than normal tone…or even just the anticipation of something unsavory happening at work are all things that can easily start the stressful Sunday cycle.
So…what can we do about it that doesn’t involve calling in ‘sick’? If the thought of Monday morning leaves you feeling less than calm, see if trying any of the following can help to make the end of the week a little more enjoyable:
Stop thinking about work until you have to. The age of working from home has made it far to commonplace to just quickly check emails in your down time in case there’s something urgent. Keep your time off as your time to completely switch off from work. Unless it’s an emergency, that’s the one job of the “out of office instant reply.” Keep your work-life balance in check by maintaining a boundary with yourself to keep your days off as just that.
Work related tasks wait until you’re officially back in the office (even if your office is your spare room.)
Make Sunday evening a mini tradition for something you love doing. Try replacing the 6 pm dread of getting ready for the work week with a game night with friends or a time to cook your favourite meal. If Sunday evening means breakfast for dinner or the day you treat yourself to take out (dessert is a must), I would say that’s something worth looking forward to each week.
Spread out your week. Rather than procrastinating your less enjoyable chores to the last minute (guilty), try and get some of the more manageable ones done throughout the week so you’re not overwhelmed come Sunday. At the same time, designate a day in the middle of the week for after works activities you can get excited about. Doing the things we love doesn’t have to be only confined to the days of the week that begin with S.
Last but not least, as a wonderful coworker reminded me on occasion…”try to remember it’s only work.” Of course, our jobs are important and we’re bound to worry on occasion, but if your job is truly causing you a massive amount of unneeded stress and regularly, then maybe consider a change in workplace. Try and delve into what it is about your current situation that triggers the anxiety and consider whether stepping into a different role might alleviate some of that.
These small changes may not take away the desire for a 4 day weekend on occasion, however, a change in mindset or employer can certainly help us to enjoy the days off we do get to the fullest.