Monday Syndrome occurs on Sunday afternoon. You start to slowly reflect on the tasks leftover from the previous week and you worry about upcoming deadlines. These thoughts can become so overwhelming and intrusive that you lose control of the last hours of the weekend. Instead of enjoying the evening off, anxiety and sadness arise.
You are not alone – over 70% of people have similar feelings on Sunday afternoons. For some people, Sunday anxiety can even turn into panic attacks. Therefore, Monday syndrome is a phenomenon that is better not to be underestimated.
WHERE DOES MONDAY SYNDROME COME FROM
Sunday anxiety is a form of anticipating stress – psychologists call it “anticipatory anxiety”.
Worrying about what comes next triggers a stress response. The classic ‘fight or flight’ reaction comes. Our body is flooded with adrenaline, our breathing speeds up, pumping extra oxygen into the brain, thus increasing our alertness. Sugar and other nutrients provide the blood with an energy boost.
If the brain still thinks there is danger (work-related concern), it will release cortisol, the body’s main stress hormone. The constant flood of cortisol keeps us on high alert.
Elevated levels of anxiety affect many aspects of life, including sleep and mood. If you lack the ability to cope with stress, physical symptoms will begin to emerge as well. Headache, gastrointestinal disturbances, trouble sleeping or eating, high blood pressure may increase as Monday approaches. Added to this are irritability and deteriorating mood.
WHAT CAUSES MONDAY SYNDROME
Monday syndrome does not only affect stressed adults who are unhappy in their work. This phenomenon also affects young children, young people and people who love their work.
Monday syndrome occurs when you feel under pressure, which can make you feel like you’re never doing enough. We live in a culture where being busy means you are important. Unfortunately, this hectic lifestyle affects our minds and bodies.
Technology mobility, flexible working hours, and working from home options increase, not reduce, work-related anxiety. When you start worrying about work on a Sunday, it’s easy to open your laptop and reduce that anxiety a little by working. Instead of regenerating your body and mind, you fight stress.
Working from home is also harder to define when to quit your job, especially when you are self-employed. There is always something to do, especially when you don’t set boundaries and are always available to others.
MONDAY SYNDROME – HOW TO OVERCOME SUNDAY FEARS
You may not be in control of what happens at work on Monday, but you can take back Sundays.
Neuropsychologist Dr. Susanne Cooperman says the best cure for Monday syndrome is a good night’s sleep, established routines, and spending time away from technology.
SAVE YOUR WORRIES
A proven way to stop the build-up of emotions is to write them down on paper. When I feel that I am suffering from Monday syndrome, I set a timer for 10-20 minutes and write down all the problems that circulate in my head related to the coming week.
This way I quickly get rid of worries in my head and clear my mind. Sometimes for some problems I immediately add various solutions that come to my mind.
This list primarily helps me put my problems at bay. Sometimes, after a few days, I find that I was unnecessarily worried about something.
CREATE A LIST TO DO ON FRIDAY
When I was learning to plan, most American authors of time management books suggested I do it on a Sunday night. The American week starts on a Sunday, so maybe it’s easier for them to plan for this day.
However, I noticed that scheduling tasks for the entire week on Sunday made me feel like I was at work. I didn’t want to spoil my Sunday afternoon, so I moved my planning to Friday.
It is very simple if you have to-do lists on a daily basis. It is enough on Friday to write down a list of things that still have to be done and add things that could not be done this week. It literally takes 10 minutes. This way, unfinished things stop circulating in my head over the weekend.
I also try to move all the predictable errands to work on weekdays. Just doing larger purchases a week gives me 2-3 additional hours on Saturday.
MAKE YOURSELF A UNIQUE SUNDAY
Monday’s syndrome strikes us on Sunday afternoons because most of the time the mind is less busy at this time. One way to change this is to plan your enjoyment for the day so that you don’t have too much time to think and worry.
I know it may sound strange because we associate planning with work. This time, however, you plan activities that will help you regenerate. Think of planning your weekend as a mini-vacation. Make yourself a ritual out of it – plan something that will make you feel good and that you will be happy to wait for.
Choose activities that occupy your body and mind – look for activities that engage all your senses. It can be small things – good tea, an interesting movie, a phone call to a friend or dinner with friends. Sunday evening is the perfect time to pamper yourself – you deserve special treatment after a whole week.
It’s a good idea to do the opposite of your job on Sunday. If your job requires mental energy – for example, you process large amounts of information, then look for activities that require physical movement. And vice versa – if you work physically, give your body a rest and regenerate. Choose an activity that will occupy your mind.
Most of my work requires so-called mental work, that’s why my springboard on Sunday is a long walk with my daughter and dog. Then I have contact with nature, focus on talking to my daughter or watching my dog enjoy being able to go jogging at will. Each of these things is a positive boost for me for the whole week and translates into benefits confirmed by scientific research.
According to researchers, owning a dog is associated with a 24% lower risk of premature death.
One recently published study also found that a 10-minute walk in the park three times a week lowered the stress hormone cortisol levels in study participants. In contrast, another 2013 UK study found that walking in green spaces helped bring the brain into a meditative state.
PLAN SOMETHING FUN FOR MONDAY EVENING AND THE REST OF THE WEEK
For most of us, Monday is the end of rest and pleasure. We return to the weekly treadmill of duties. In this way, we perpetuate the pattern in which we associate the weekend with freedom and the remaining days only with work. You can break this by finding yourself a small positive boost in a week.
Make a list of the little things you love to do and plan each of them for specific days of the week. I put the greatest emphasis on Monday evening to sweeten my return to the world of tasks and problems. Together with my daughter, we watch the series or programs we like the most. Even though Monday is always a difficult day at work, I know that in the evening all the stress will evaporate from me when I laugh with my loved one.
If you don’t have a desk-bound job, take frequent breaks throughout the day. Look for small things that will make your work more pleasant – good coffee, talking to your favorite colleague at work, going out for lunch.
So don’t keep your greatest pleasures to yourself at the end of the week. If you spread out your favorite activities during the week, the end of the weekend will no longer be associated with the end of joy. The more activities you find, the easier it will be for you to shift your focus from responsibilities to things you like.
START SEARCHING FOR A NEW JOB
If you find that none of the above methods work for you, it’s time to think about a change. A job that regularly makes you feel like Monday or makes you feel reluctant no matter what day of the week is up for change.
Anxiety that lasts for many weeks damages your health. If you experience headaches, abdominal pain, palpitations and insomnia, please consult your doctor.
Also, listen to your intuition. If you feel that the place where you are working is affecting your health, it’s time to change. Leaving a toxic job is a very difficult decision, but it will protect your health from a serious illness.
Fortunately, most of us have Monday syndrome after learning to better manage our energy, emotions and time.