Work Smarter//

How to Stop the Sunday Scaries

Finally, some tips on making friends with Monday.

By Natalie Board/Shutterstock
By Natalie Board/Shutterstock

Let’s talk about anxiety on Sunday nights.

Ever been there?

Maybe you’ve seen people using “Sunday Scaries” on social media. It’s a term that’s popped up in the last few years as a way for people to describe the anxiety they feel on Sundays when they think about the looming work week or school week that’s about to begin.

And it’s no joke. A shocking survey by LinkedIn found that more than 90% of Millennials and Gen Z worry about the week ahead on Sundays. That’s scary stuff.

That comes as no surprise when 70% of Americans are disengaged at work. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Of course you’re going to feel anxious the night before you have to return to a job you hate.

What causes the Sunday Scaries?

Every single one of us was created to fill a unique role and do work that matters. So, whenever we’re not doing what we were created to do, anxiety starts bubbling up.

In her book Happiness at Work, Jessica Pryce-Jones calculates that workers will spend an average of 90,000 hours at work throughout their lifetimes. I refuse to believe we’re supposed to be miserable for that many hours of our lives.

So, what brings on the Sunday Scaries? More often than not, they’re a result of one—or a combination—of these five causes:
1. You’re not passionate about your work.
2. You work in a toxic environment.
3. You feel overwhelmed with your workload.
4. You feel underappreciated by your leaders and/or peers.
5. You’re bored at work.

Hopefully, when you look at that list, you realize you’re not crazy about having the Sunday Scaries.

But that doesn’t mean you have to experience this for the rest of your life. There’s fulfillment waiting for you in work that matters.

There’s hope.

Let’s talk about two steps you can take to start moving in a new, anxiety-reducing direction.

2 ways to get over the Sunday Scaries

Think of the Sunday Scaries as a chronic illness. You’ll be tempted to medicate or distract yourself in lots of different ways. But when you do that—when you only numb the symptoms for temporary relief—you’ll become more and more immune to the “medication.” And eventually, you’ll be forced to face the pain head-on when it returns week after week.

Don’t waste your time “medicating.” Don’t live in that torturous cycle. Instead, do the hard work of finding a permanent solution to your Sunday night anxiety. Here are two solutions to help you get started:

1. Change your mindset
First, I encourage you to shift your mindset from one that dreads work to one that is grateful to even have work.

No matter your situation, I’m confident you can come up with a list of things you’re grateful for. Let me help you brainstorm:

  • A paycheck that provides some sort of financial stability
  • Good benefits or perks that your job provides
  • Great friends or mentors you’ve met at the office
  • A valuable skill you’ve learned that will go with you if you leave the company
  • A way to fund your future (this job will keep you afloat while you figure out a new path to work you love)

I know it’s easy to get bogged down by how much the negatives outweigh the positives at your job. But if you can be disciplined enough to focus on the good stuff (for now), you’ll be better prepared to tackle the second, more permanent solution.

2. Practice the Proximity Principle

When I’m coaching someone who experiences the Sunday Scaries because of one of the five causes I listed above, I often advise them to find a new job. It’s not always because the company they work for is a bad one, but because they’re not working in their sweet spot (the place where what you do best and what you love to do most intersect).

So, how do you get to your sweet spot? By practicing the Proximity Principle, which says: In order to do what you want to do, you have to be around people who are doing it and be in the places it’s happening.

You can start this journey right where you are! Be intentional about making connections with the people in your office, and then move out to those in your office building (are there other organizations in the same building?), your neighborhood, your city and
beyond.

I want you to spend every spare moment making connections and building relationships.

Invite people who have careers you might be interested in coffee or lunch. Volunteer with organizations in the field you’re interested in or ask if you can shadow someone at their job. Find local clubs you can meet with regularly for mentorship and support (just Google “meetups for writers, developers, marketers, personal assistants,” etc.).

By being around these people and being in these places, you’ll find open doors to opportunities you would never have discovered otherwise. And before you know it, when Sunday night rolls around, you won’t dread another week of misery. Instead, you’ll look forward to another week of new, exciting connections and opportunities.

For a deeper dive into the Proximity Principle, check out my book The Proximity Principle: The Proven Strategy That Will Lead to the Career You Love. Folks, you were created to create. You were created for a purpose and to offer a unique contribution to the world. This is why it’s not okay to experience the Sunday Scaries every single week. Don’t try to treat or numb your symptoms. You have to get to the source to solve the real problem—and the source is doing work you’re not passionate about.

Embrace the journey because landing your dream job takes time, perseverance and patience. But when you’re enjoying every Sunday night and no longer lying awake with anxiety, you’ll be grateful you pushed through so you can finally live the dream.
You matter, and you have it what it takes. Press on!

Originally published on Ladders.

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