The weekend is winding down, and you’re starting to feel a little blue. Whether it’s mild sadness or full-blown anxiety, you might have a case of the Sunday-night blues.
It’s not uncommon. A June 2015 survey from Monster.com found that more than 76% of U.S. workers surveyed have “really bad” Sunday-night blues, and spend the final hours of their weekends fretting over what’s waiting for them at work the next day.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to alleviate those feelings without calling in sick or quitting your job. Experiment with these tactics to start making Sunday evenings less stressful.
It sounds simple, but it’s tough to get to the root of the issue without understanding what’s bothering you, says David M. Mayer, associate professor of management and organizations at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. Many people think their jobs are not important, have strained workplace relationships, or feel that they’re not engaged in their work, “so they get excited about turning it off for the weekend,” he says.
Once you can put your finger on why Monday is such a bummer, you can begin to address the underlying issues, he says. If you have workplace conflicts or serious issues with your job, you may need to work on long-term fixes for those problems to alleviate the anxiety they bring.
Many work environments have conflict. Once the week is over, you need to let it go so it doesn’t ruin your time off. Executive coach Michael O’Brien, founder of Peloton Coaching and Consulting, a coaching firm in Tenafly, New Jersey, helps his clients master “Friday forgiveness,” to forgive coworkers or supervisors instead of ruminating on wrongdoings. It’s not always easy, but it can help you shed some of your anger about the situation.
“Forgiving isn’t forgetting. It’s just a simple process to release the emotions that make us less than happy at work,” he says.
While it’s tempting to dash out the door on Friday evening, you might be doing yourself a big favor if you take a bit of time to organize the following week first, O’Brien says. Or, take a few minutes on Saturday morning to plan what will need to be done on Monday, ensure you have the information and resources you need to complete those tasks, and identify any obstacles or challenges so they don’t catch you by surprise.
If you’re prepared, you’ll feel better heading into the day, but you’ll free up your Sunday evening for something more fun or relaxing, he says.
The numbers of employees who hate their jobs or don’t feel engaged at work are well-documented. So, sometimes it’s up to you to incorporate your own big-picture goals, says career expert Nicole Williams, CEO and founder of WORKS, a New York City-based career consultancy. Whether it’s working towards a big promotion or learning a new skill, set a big career goal for yourself and take some time every Monday to try work towards it, she says. That may include meeting with a mentor or taking a class—whatever you can do to work on the goal.
“Sometimes, you need to give yourself something to be excited about, especially if you feel bored or not challenged,” she says.
Sometimes, you might not have control over Monday-morning meetings, but try not to schedule important or unpleasant meetings for first thing on the first day of the workweek, Evans suggests. You’re going to be anxious about it all weekend, especially Sunday night. Instead, use that time to work on a project or task you enjoy, or collaborate with a teammate whose company you enjoy, so you start your week off right. That may also be a good time to work on your stretch goal, Williams adds.
Weekends are often so jam-packed with errands and obligations that we feel like we need an extra day just to relax. Guard your weekend time carefully, and be sure you claim some as your own, O’Brien says. You’ll feel less resentful about the time off ending if you’ve used some of it to enjoy yourself. Plan something fun or relaxing, especially for Sunday night. And be sure you’re not running yourself to the point of exhaustion that will carry over into Monday.
It’s easy to spot everything that’s wrong. You have too much to do. Your job is boring. Your boss is a jerk. All of that can feed into Sunday-night stress. Instead, turn around that negative thinking, O’Brien says. (With practice, it gets easier, he says.) Think about the benefits of your job or the parts you like. Think about your income and how it provides for you and your family. Think about how your chores and errands contribute to your quality of life.
“Sometimes, you really need to think about what the benefits to all of these things are. That can help you see things in a new light,” he says.