Sunday Night Anxiety

Don’t Like Sundays? Tell Me Why!

How to prevent unnecessary worry, anxiety and sleepless nights every Sunday

As I sit here on Sunday afternoon, looking out of the window at grey overcast skies, knowing that in a few short hours it will be Monday morning and time to go back to work, I feel fantastic. It appears that I’m one of the lucky few.

A new survey of more than 20,000 workers by Monster.com reveals more than 80 percent of workers suffer Sunday-night insomnia due to work anxiety.

Many of the people surveyed say their anxiety rises straight after Sunday dinner as Monday looms. With increasing expectations and pressures some workers feel the only way to get ahead is to prepare on Sunday nights — checking e-mail, mentally rehearsing for meetings and worrying about the week ahead.

Experts say Sunday-night depression is more common than most people realise. Craig Marker, assistant professor with the Centre for Psychological Studies at Nova South-Eastern University was quoted as saying ”It’s anticipatory worrying,”

If this is something that currently affects you, the good news is there are ways to cope.

“Anticipatory worrying” is so common in many areas of life and not just confined to work related anxiety. We tend to find ourselves getting worked up far in advance of actual events, anticipating all the things that could possibly go wrong. Sometimes getting so anxious it can result in a full blown panic attack. Then, in the future, knowing how scary a panic attack can be we worry about having a panic attack – which in itself can trigger the sensations of an attack. Then we worry about worrying about having a panic attack and so on. You get the picture! A very famous man (but not so famous that I can remember his name!) towards the end of his days was quoted as saying “I have experienced many, many traumatic events in my life and, you know, some of them actually happened.”

If you’re suffering from Sunday night insomnia and anxiety here are some techniques to help you cope.

Get that Friday Feeling

Prepare for Monday before leaving the office on Friday. Spend the last 30 minutes on a Friday clearing your desk or workspace and plan for the week ahead. This will enable you to write any to do lists and get any materials you need ready for Monday morning. If you think you couldn’t possibly spare 30 minutes on a Friday afternoon, you’ll be surprised at how much time this simple exercise saves you and prevents you from playing catch up all week. You can than switch off from work mode and enjoy your weekend right up to the moment you step foot back in work.

Plan your “Funday” night experience

Another plan that can work is to plan Sunday evenings to be as much fun as possible. Maybe catch up on your favourite TV programmes or absorb yourself in that book you’ve not got round to reading yet, phone family or friends and have a nice relaxing bath. It is Sunday after all, didn’t we all used to have a bath on a Sunday night before school on a Monday?

Think Inside the Box for a Change
A great technique for relaxing into a peaceful nights sleep as well as reducing feelings of stress and anxiety is what I call the “Box Breathing” technique. I teach this to clients who come to see me with anxiety related concerns. About 75-80% of my clients are for stress, anxiety and depression related conditions and I love hearing about the great results they get using this and other techniques we share.

Climb into bed, get comfortable and close your eyes. Imagine that you’re going to draw a square in your mind, choose any colour for this – maybe one you would associate with calm and relaxation. Mine is yellow by the way.

As you take a deep, relaxing breath in imagine drawing the left hand side of the square from the bottom to the top. Then hold that breath for as long as is comfortable as you imagine drawing the top of the box from left to right. As you breathe out imagine drawing the right hand side of the square from top to bottom. Finally hold that breath again as you imagine drawing the bottom of the square from right to left and completing the box.

As you repeat this exercise over and over again start to slowly relax all your muscles from your feet up to your eyes. Very soon you will be relaxing into a peaceful nights sleep.

If it’s all too much

Of course, if the anxiety of Sunday night completely washes over Sunday afternoon, Sunday morning and even starts working its special power as early as mid-day Saturday, it may be an indicator it is time to move on to another job. And if it is becoming emotionally disruptive to you and your loved ones, professional help could be the answer.