Its Sunday morning: you just woke up and are a little tired because you went to dinner with friends and stayed out later than planned and came home and crashed. This morning you wake up, the first thing you look for (if not your glasses) is your phone. What to open first? Facebook? Instagram? CNN (nah, its Sunday)…or do you double check Fantasy and make sure no one is showing up on the inactive list.
When you finally do make your way to coffee and couch, its more scrolling, but this time with Netflix playing a rerun of something mindless in the background. Because its SUNDAY. No plans day, couch surfing, leftover-snacking, pjs until 3pm SUNDAY!!!
But about 3pm something begins to nibble at the back of your mind. Dinner is coming…which means bedtime is getting closer and tomorrow begins the workweek. Ugh. Work. And much like notifications on your phone, your mind begins to ding reminders of all the things you need to get done tomorrow. Email so-n-so, cant forget to remember to edit that document, call the phone company about that weird charge (when my boss is at lunch), and every other odd-n-end that begins to snap together in your mind about the workweek-not to mention everything else (that thing called life) you try to squeeze in between.
Dinner time: order take out because when you feel this way, why cook? You need something easy and you don’t have the energy to figure out food right now.
Bedtime: the clothes for tomorrow are clean, laptop is by the door, everything is set out in the obvious locations so you feel together and wont forget that ONE thing you have to take with you. Lay down, maybe scroll some more, check your team, then the clock…ok, time to close your eyes and try to sleep. Maybe you fall asleep quickly or maybe it takes some time, but all night sleep is interrupted. Every hour you jerk awake not sure you were even asleep to begin with. Grabbing for the phone you hope a little scrolling will get you tired again…2 hours passes. You have to get up in 2 hours. You contemplate just getting out of bed. Maybe get some things done? No, you will be dragging by noon. Must. Sleep. Close eyes…and what seems like 5 mins later the alarm goes off. Two hours pass in a heartbeat and you’re pretty sure you had more energy at 3am than you do now.
Does any of this feel familiar?
In an informal 2018 survey done by LinkedIn, 80% of responses reported experiencing anxiety symptoms like: stomach issues, restlessness, irritability, a vague sense of unease-all beginning on Sunday afternoons.
Until recently, I didn’t even know there was a term for the sensation both my husband and I experience regularly on Sundays. The term is Sunday Scaries. This sensation isn’t restricted to Sunday because in my experience, sometimes it moves into Monday mornings as well! An unfortunate side effect of afternoon anxiety, coupled with lack of sleep Sunday nights gets me empathizing with every Garfield cartoon about Mondays that I can remember. And if a cartoon cat can so deeply identify with this idea for as long as he did (does?), does that mean that mean a cartoonist like Jim Davis felt them??? I mean, of all the jobs to consider for possibly not feeling anxious about your Mondays, might it be the artist with a successful franchise? But then again, even Jim Davis is back at the drawing board every Monday, like the rest of us (yup I just said that, get it?).
My husband, Levi and I have been having conversations for years about the anxiety we feel as it starts to churn on Sunday afternoons. Attributing to many things, like being over-extended on plans, consuming too much junk or too little activity. I even began having (unofficial) technology breaks during Sundays to help ease the sensation. And while there was no perfect solution, I have come up with a few things that do seem to help. So I thought I’d share what has helped (not cured) my Sunday Scaries.
- Limit Technology: if you’ve seen the documentary, The Social Dilemma, they report that technology triggers the addictive parts of our brain to keep you scrolling. Even the act of scrolling is an addictive trait, leaving us with an unlimited supply of content to consume and the ‘fear of missing out’ if we set it down. In addition, eMarker reports that we now log more time looking at a screen (phone, computer, tv combined) than we do sleeping each night (7hr 50 min in front of a screen, 7hr 36min sleeping). We spend a third of our life sleeping and now another third is in front of the screen. I wonder, how much time are we spending on our devices searching for things we missed, as we’re missing out on things we’d love to post that we’re doing?
- Watch your intake: over consumption of anything on a Sunday is a great way to add to the stack of things working against you. Im not saying don’t have the hot wings, but maybe only have a couple. Overeating on a Sunday can impact sleep and sluggishness the following day. Try: adding a large healthy option with the wings or make buffaloed cauliflower instead (I was a doubter, and now Im a convert, check out this recipe for a better option that wont keep you up all night).
- Create a nourishing routine: I love to end my weekend eating something that really feels nourishing and like a treat. I love the spice palate of Indian cooking and how Indian food can often be very healthy and satisfying. So not long ago, I went on Pinterest and started looking up recipes to try. I have found some amazing and fast Indian dishes that are loaded with spice and veggies which help me feel as though I beginning my week off well. Here are a couple I have loved:
- Read a book: in the book Read to Lead, the authorstalk about studies that show a massive reduction in anxiety and stress by reading a book for only 6 minutes! It didn’t matter if the book was on your phone or not and if it is on your phone, adjust the settings so you can scroll down to read as opposed to ‘flip’ the page so its easier to read-allowing you to consume more as you read as well!
- My advice: if you do wake up in the middle of the night, open the book on your phone instead of Facebook to help get the mind relaxed again. It makes it easier to fall back asleep faster.
- Get a tech-less hobby: I don’t have to have my eyes glued to the game to keep up with whats going on (totally made my Halloween costume last week while the Packers/Bengals game went into overtime). So what if you have the game on, but are just listening to it? Lets bring back the radio concept and keep our eyes, hands and bodies free to move around. Walk the dog, work on a craft or puzzle, maybe get that small project done as you keep with the score. Our phones are giving us the illusion freedom while keeping us bound to it-the best example of irony I’ve seen. So use it to your advantage and create a work-around if you really need to keep up with something on the screen. Bonus: you can post about what you accomplished later.
- Practice Yoga at home: You’re reading this on a yoga studio website-how am I NOT going mention this??? Will others in the house bother you while you practice? Invite them to join you as you create a new routine together. The more you practice together, the more they will understand the what you’re doing and either join in or go do something else while you’re on your mat. Sometimes that isn’t ideal when you’re trying to relax your mind, but part of our practice is the function of flexibility (flexibility of mind!). So try breathing deeply as you help your yoga buddy learn the ropes of practice. Is company not an issue, but knowing what to do is? Then I invite you to use your mat as a magic carpet of adventure. Bring in the mind of a child and breathe and roll around a bit. Yoganand often comments about how a 15min practice each day is better than a one hour practice every now and again. If you feel really lost, use the time to journal. Journaling is a wonderful way to clear the mind in a different way. Once you’ve moved your thoughts to paper, then give yourself some quiet moments to reflect on what you wrote.
- Create a bedtime routine: I cant stress the value of this enough (my husband is reading this rolling his eyes because of how much I preach this). A bedtime routine has been a huge part of my entire life. My parents always stressed its value to me growing up and it was even more important during my bartending days when I went back to college. On nights I would come home after 2am and had to be at class at 8am-it was WAY too easy to stay up, fall asleep at 5am and then skip class (not good). So as soon as I would get home, I would immediately jump in a hot shower, then get into my pjs and crawl into bed and go right to sleep (maybe with some reading before). I would avoid food and tv (especially tv) because they would wake me up and then the bad cycle would begin. Even today, I will occasionally take a hot shower in the middle of the night to relax the muscles in my body and coax my body and mind to rest.
- Try our monthly Yoga Nidra class: Yoga Nidra is a deeply relaxing practice accessible to even the most novice of practitioners. It’s 30 minutes of gentle movement, followed by an hour of guided meditation focusing on different parts of the body inviting them to relax. Students have reported to me they sleep better, less anxiety, helps focus, and the effects can last for days. Even leading it, I notice my own energy change. Maybe its osmosis, but I leave feeling more connected and ready for the week too.
While this isn’t a complete list of all the possibilities out there, these are some tried, tested and well documented things to incorporate whether you live alone or with others. Creating a culture at home that encourages healthy practices might seem like a hard sell, but it doesn’t take long for everyone to see the value it brings you and by extension them. Is there something on this list you can try today? Send me your plan to battle the Sunday Scaries at: firstname.lastname@example.org.