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What Are the “Sunday Scaries” and What Causes Them?

What are the Sunday Scaries? Mental health experts share what causes this strange phenomenon and how you can help prevent it as you head into your work week.

By Sara Novak
Mar 30, 2023 2:30 PMMar 30, 2023 2:27 PM
Calendar on blue background crosson Sunday with stick note SUNDAY SCARIES
(Credit:Ariya J/Shutterstock)


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The weekends just don’t feel long enough. On Fridays, you’re exhausted from a long work week. Saturdays are for running around doing errands that you weren’t able to get done on the weekdays. And then, come Sunday, you’re left dreading the work week ahead.

But while the Sunday Scaries aren’t a new phenomenon, in recent years, they seem to have gotten worse, which may have a lot to do with how we view work/life balance in this country. Here’s why you’re getting the Sunday Scaries and what you can do about it. 

What Are the Sunday Scaries?

According to Alex Dimitriu, a psychiatrist with Menlo Park Psychiatry & Sleep Medicine in Menlo Park, California, there’s a level of dread that goes along with starting the work week on Monday. 

Accompanying that dread may be anxiety and delaying going to bed on Sunday. “It’s a sort of fear and loathing that builds up as the end of Sunday draws near,” says Dimitriu.

The Sunday Scaries are really a level of performance anxiety that tends to take over, says Dimitriu, almost like the feeling that you get before giving a speech or taking a big exam. With it comes anticipation and a sense that you need to show up and do your best work.

A certain level of anxiety is normal because it helps you be prepared and put your best foot forward. But when anxiety becomes uncomfortable and bothersome, or it impacts your sleep, it may be something worth paying more attention to, says Dimitriu. 

Read More: The Science of Sleep

Have the Sunday Scaries Gotten Worse?

The pandemic may be playing a role in worsening the Sunday Scaries, says Dimitriu. “With COVID-19, people got used to working from home, and there was a level of comfort in it. I’ve seen more issues with people shifting gears as they have to re-enter the workplace,” he says.

The nature of work may also be exacerbating the Sunday Scaries because the hours that employees are expected to work and the general demands on their time have changed in the past 50 years.

The availability of technology like smartphones and home offices has created a “blurring of the lines” between work and home life, which, says Dimitriu, means that people never really recover from the work week. “As technology has crept into our lives, we’re never unplugged, and people might not be fully recharged at the end of a weekend,” he says. 

Read More: Does Blue Light Damage Skin

How To Get Rid of Sunday Scaries

One of the most important things you can do come Sunday is to go to bed. Don’t try to extend your weekend by staying up later because it will make your Monday much more stressful, says Dimitriu.

Jonathan Alpert, psychotherapist and author of Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days, says it’s best to avoid putting off your Monday preparations until Sunday. “At the end of each work week, take 5 to 10 minutes to prepare for the next week by straightening up your workspace, tying up loose ends and making a to-do list. Investing the time now will help ease your mind for the next 48 hours,” he says.

Additionally, don’t overschedule your weekend; allow for as much time as possible to relax and recharge from the work week so you’re not dreading Monday, says Alpert. When Sunday rolls around, plan your activities based on your mood. “If you ordinarily feel depressed on Sundays, then arrange a fun activity such as a special restaurant dinner or hanging out with friends,” he says.

And finally, take a deeper look at what’s causing the dread. Is it fact or fiction? Does your boss actually expect you to work from home all weekend, or is that just an assumption that you conjured up in your mind? Sometimes we put fears in our heads that aren’t based in reality, says Alpert.

Luckily, there’s a lot you can do to reduce the Sunday Scaries, and the most important thing is to use the weekend in the way that it was meant to be used. Relax, recharge, unplug, spend time in nature, have fun with family and friends, and go to sleep at a reasonable hour. After all, work is only one part of who we are, and the weekend was meant to cultivate other important aspects of our lives. It shouldn’t be spent dreading the workweek ahead.

Read More: The Biology of Stress in Your Body

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