Just by looking at the title, you probably know what I am talking about…that sneaky, anxious feeling that starts to creep up on you somewhere between 4 and 7pm on a Sunday afternoon or evening.
That thought creeps in…the one that tells you that the weekend is almost over, that you have to return to work, and just like that, the grey cloud returns. It follows you wherever you go for the remainder of the day.
You’re more distracted, less present, and it’s a little bit harder to find joy in the moment. Just when you finally started to relax and settle in to your weekend, you start thinking about work again.
The Sunday Blues are Not Inevitable.
This is the first thing you need to get and understand.
Unfortunately, I had to cry for literally months of Sundays and wake my husband up crying some more, before I finally got it.
In another life, I was crying every Sunday. I was dating my husband at the time and I would just start to lose my shit at the thought of going back to work. I didn’t want our time together to end, I didn’t want to go back to pressure, responsibility, or the dissatisfaction I was feeling at my job.
For weeks, he’d hold me, comfort me, and cajole me. Soon, he was able to do it on automatic pilot because over time, it did, in fact become our habit.
What a lousy way to end a perfectly good weekend.
I didn’t know it at the time, but the first time I gave so much energy and oxygen to my angst, I was creating a habit. The clock would strike that 4:00 hour and I would start to think about work.
Anything we do at the same time, on a regular basis, becomes a habit.
That is, after all, how we build habits for ourselves. You don’t want to think about this as something you’re actually doing to yourself.
It’s easier, I know, to just call it anxiety, to tell yourself that no one wants to end family time to go back to work, especially to your job that’s so…x,y, and z.
And you’re right…sort of.
I love working with my clients and I am passionate about writing but yes, I would rather be playing Frisbee with my husband, eating ramen, watching football, or hanging out with my nephews more than pretty much anything.
However, I own my Sundays again because I am in more control of my life and my work now.
Break the Sunday Blues Habit by Getting in Control of Your Mondays.
Get Clear and Specific About What is Causing Your Angst.
Before you can channel your Sunday angst into a specific direction, you have to be able to name the problem. Do you like your job at all? Are there parts of your job that you like? Do you have any control over your job or its direction? What are the things that have been keeping you there?
- What about the job is repelling you? What is driving you away? What aspects of your job are intruding on your Sunday? Break it down. Get specific. Get clear on what you like and on what just isn’t working.
- Have you tried to make any changes yet? Are there conversations you need to have with your team or with your boss to improve things?
- Are you sure you need to be miserable? Are there things you haven’t tried? Be honest with yourself here. So many times, people trap themselves in angst because they are afraid of speaking up and trying to change things. They feel hesitant around conflict, worry about retribution, or fear simply being ignored and skipped over entirely.
Are you willing to contribute to changing things?
If you already know that you’re not going to say anything at work and you already know that you could leave but are choosing not to, congratulations, you are officially back in control of your life, of your weekends, and of your work.
I’m not being snarky here. Honest.
You need to walk yourself through this so you can talk back to your angst.
Once you recognize that there are things that you could change but you are choosing not to, there is nothing to get anxious or sad about. You are not trapped. You could leave but you are choosing not to.
This is all in your control and you respond to your Sunday angst with that truth:
- Yes, I know I could leave but I have a pension here and that is worth more to me than starting over.
- Yes, I know I could leave but I am working for a promotion and once I get it, I’ll no longer have to work for this guy.
- Yes, I know I could say something about what is bothering me but I know how that turns out. I’ll speak up. They’ll pretend to listen but nothing ever changes. The writing is on the wall. The only way this changes is if I leave and I am not willing to do that just yet.
It’s OK not to change. You just can’t get upset about it.
You’ve taken time to consider changing the things you find upsetting and you have chosen not to. Now there’s nothing to be get worked up about. Everything that happens next is part of your plan. You walked yourself through leaving and your plan is now to stay.
When the angst hits, you remind yourself that you are in control. You have worked through the pros and cons, have weighed out your options and have decided that it’s best for you to stay and let things be.
Own it. Every time.
Over time, as you talk back to the Sunday irritant, you’ll get less angst-ridden because you’ll have put yourself back in the driver’s seat of your own life.
How to get ready for change:
If you just read all of this and thought to yourself “Crap, it’s not going to be so easy for me but yeah, I know I need to say something” or you’re thinking to yourself “Yep, I know I am quarter past done,” it’s ok.
First, check out this article on leaving your soul sucking job if you just know that’s what’s going to be necessary. It has a lot of what you’ll need to get focused and take action.
If you’re staying but need to see change:
- Get clear on what isn’t working, why it isn’t working, and what you think possible solutions might be.
- Consider possible solutions. Employers, managers, and bosses have an easier time responding to problems when also presented with ways the difficulty or challenge might be addressed.
- Remind yourself that this will take some time and that it won’t happen right away.
- Talk back to the angst with the actions you are taking. When the Sunday blues hit, and they will, talk back to them by reminding yourself that you are taking action. You are putting yourself in the driver’s seat. You are recognizing the problem but are taking steps toward fixing it.
You’re not destined for weeks of Sunday blues until it all gets resolved.
How to Survive the Meantime:
Whether you are choosing to stay, leave, or trying to make a change, it’s going to take a minute to see resolution of any kind. That doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to weeks of Sunday Blues:
- Focus on the good: Yes, I know that is irritating to hear but it doesn’t make it any less true. Focus on the coworker you are looking forward to seeing, the team member you are looking forward to working with, someone’s success you are looking forward to witnessing, or a goal you are looking forward to achieving. You know what I am talking about. Redirect your angst and upset with a more positive lens.
- Tune into the good right in front of you: Again, not any less annoying to hear, I know, but not any less true. Every moment you give to thinking about your dread, about the things that suck, is a moment you are giving your job power over your personal life. Refuse to give it space. Focus on what you are missing out with your angst and refuse to give your upset that kind of power.
- Cry it out and then move on. Vent, grumble, rant, sob. Whatever you need to do but put a time limit on it. I usually recommend no more than 15 minutes. That angst is just energy and you get to control it. You don’t need to problem solve You just need to cope with it. Don’t pretend there is anything to problem solve here. Just let yourself feel whatever you need to feel and move on. Don’t analyze, question, or second guess. Just feel it and then send it on down the line.
- Stop giving the angst oxygen. You already know your job sucks. There’s nothing new to see here. Stop fueling the fire. Stop adding examples of why it’s hard, stressful, or tiring. Stop adding to that list. Just stop.
- Reframe the negatives. Whenever I work with someone in a dead end relationship who has decided to leave, they still feel angry, hurt, or sad every time their soon to be ex does something else. I remind them…this is why you are leaving. Every time you think of a negative or something else upsetting goes down, remind yourself that this is why you are tackling this issue.
Break the Sunday Blues Habit
Take ownership of your Sunday mood by talking back to the things you don’t like and taking action on the things you can change. You’ve created a body memory in that Sunday timeslot and you are getting upset on cue.
You may never love the idea of a Monday but you can enjoy your ENTIRE weekend before it’s time to go back to work.
Originally published: Choosetohaveitall.com
About the Author
Heather Gray is an executive coach, therapist, and writer with 16 years of clinical experience. Heather regularly writes for Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, and LifeHack.org. She is also a Lead Editor and contributing writer for The Good Men Project.