If the thought of going back to work on Mondays makes you anxious, you're not alone. Eighty percent of professionals say they've felt "Sunday Scaries" or "Sunday Blues" after thinking about the work week ahead, a 2018 LinkedIn Survey found. Luckily, experts say there are simple strategies that can help anyone cope.
Steven Meyers, a clinical psychologist and professor at Roosevelt University in Chicago says Sunday Scaries reflect a condition called "anticipatory anxiety."
This worry or dread occurs in advance of a particular event. While its impact can be less severe than a full anxiety disorder, the Sunday Scaries can add to chronic stress which, if not addressed, can lead to serious problems ranging from depression and high blood pressure to other health issues.
Such anxiety can be even worse for Millennial and Gen Z workers. According to the LinkedIn survey, the Sunday Scaries were felt by 91 percent of Millennials and 94 percent of Gen Z workers. By contrast, only around 70 percent of Boomers and Gen X workers reported worrying about the week ahead.
Younger workers "haven't had years to get past the mental rebellion that often accompanies return to work," says psychologist Randy Simon. These younger workers, many who spend hours more on tasks like email, are often still developing strateges to balance their work and personal lives.
"Weekends are a time of rejuvenation and rest, something most people look forward to throughout the week," Simon tells CNBC Make It. "Sunday is typically perceived as an end of this free time, provoking feelings of anxiety about the week ahead."
If you're facing the Sunday Scaries, these five strategies can help.
Fight against the Sunday Scaries throughout your work week. Dedicate two 10-minute slots at the beginning and middle of your week to review how you've been spending your time each day, recommends Leah Weiss a Stanford Graduate School of Business lecturer and expert in careers and mindfulness.
One window should be focused on looking ahead and setting intentions for the meetings, events and projects you'll be engaging with over the course of the week. Make sure that your events and appointments match your priorities.
"Many appointments are not relevant," Weiss tells CNBC Make It.
The second window should be spent reflecting back over the week that you have just completed, identifying the most purposeful moments. "Which were draining and which were the most invigorating? Understanding what did — and did not — create a sense of vitality can then inform your choices going forward," says Weiss.
If you have an anxious thought, "identify it and argue with it," says Simon. For example, if you have a presentation coming up and are nervous about it, don't let negative thoughts consume you. Reassure yourself with thoughts about how it will go well.
"Anxiety is future-oriented. It is about 'what ifs.' When [people recognize] that they are having an anxious thought about the week ahead, they can take a moment to notice what is happening right now, in the present," says Simon.
Instead of ignoring what needs to get done, get proactive and start planning. Take a moment to craft a to-do list that keeps your priorities top of mind, says Simon.
Your busy work week will "then feel more manageable," says Simon.
Once you've finished, stop thinking about the week ahead, he suggests, "Set the list aside and go back to being present."
Take 10 or 15 minutes of your Sunday to write down what you're grateful for in a journal. This practice can help you remember what's most important to you.
According to Weiss, it can also quell your fears for the upcoming week since gratitude pulls your attention from fear and anxiety.
If possible, Meyers recommends keeping busy on Sunday nights so you have fewer opportunities to experience worry or dread.
"Ideally, this involves doing something enjoyable, like a hobby or connecting with family or friends," says Meyers. "Even ordinary distractions can help to shift your focus."
He also recommends planning something fun mid-week. Give yourself something to look forward to, he suggests. "These small treats and events boost motivation."
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