– Or Why You Live in Fear of Mondays
If you spend the entire weekend dreading Sunday, you’re suffering from something known as the Sunday Scaries.
Which is just another way of saying “work-related anxiety”.
And this means that you have absolutely no work-life balance.
Let’s look at how this happens and what you can do to stop worrying about work every Saturday and Sunday.
Why You Bring Your Work Home
Fear of Falling Behind
If you’re a driven and ambitious person you might assume that the way to get or stay ahead of your peers is to put in extra hours at the weekend, even if you have no evidence to prove it.
You are incapable of saying “No” to yet another project or task assigned to you. Or you work for a company where ridiculous workloads are the norm i.e. there’s more work to be done than there are hours in the day.
You need everything to be just so – exactly how you like it. Even if that means working 60 hours per week instead of 40 hours. This is despite the fact that 90% of your colleagues seem to get by just fine working 40 hours.
What Work-Related Anxiety Does To You
You might not feel this initially, but your stress levels will slowly increase and then accelerate. By the time you realize how stressed out you are, you’re already burnt out.
Once you’ve burnt out you’re going to deal with a whole host of other problems, including dramatically reduced productivity for several weeks if not months, interpersonal problems in the workplace, and even mental health issues.
Personal Relationships Suffer
Any spouse or partner is going to understand if you have to work over the weekend once in a blue Moon…but not every week for months on end.
There’s only so long that can go on without your other half feeling neglected, and that’s a downward spiral that’s best avoided.
Ongoing anxiety can result in physical symptoms and illness ranging from an upset stomach to physical pains and even increased blood pressure and heart rate.
Anxiety is much more than a mental health issue – it’s a physical health issue too.
How To Let Get Go Of Work At The Weekend
Ask For Help
If you’re currently feeling seriously overwhelmed, and exhausted and you’re not sure if you can keep going, then seeking professional help is your best move.
Speaking with a trained and trusted therapist is a good place to start – it has always worked for me.
So, please don’t assume that the problem will go away on its own, or you’ll just work your way through it.
That’s not likely to happen.
Be Present During The Work Week
This is going to ruffle the feathers of some people, but it has to be said.
If you spend several hours of your week goofing off on social media, watching videos, and posting, then your personal habits are part of the problem.
Statistically, the average person is only productive for about 3 hours out of an 8-hour day.
The several hours of work you don’t get done during the week then need to be made up for (or hidden) before Monday/your next shift rolls around.
You might absolutely hate your job, but avoiding it will just add to the stress you feel every Saturday and Sunday.
Here’s how to be present during your working week.
- Block all nonwork activities especially social media apps during your working day unless it’s part of your job to use them
- Answer emails in batches – 9 am, 12 pm, and 4 pm but not every single time your inbox goes “Ping!”
- Plan out your working week in advance – have a clear idea of what you have to do
- Get as much of your work done as you can when you’re meant to be doing it
- Work in blocks of time i.e. set aside a specific amount of time for a task and then give that task 100% of your focus during that time block.
Then when clocking out time comes, you can walk away knowing you’ve done a good week’s work, and leave it at the office door or factory gate.
Turn Off Your Tech
If you have work email or Slack (or both) on your phone, remove both apps right now. Unless you’re being paid to monitor or reply to work messages at the weekend, then don’t do it.
It’s now illegal in many countries for employees to be expected to answer emails, phone calls, or any form of electronic communication outside regular working hours.
You’re effectively working for free while also denying yourself the time you need to relax and recharge before you go back into actual work.
And let’s be honest – when was the last time you got an email or Slack message that was SO urgent that it couldn’t wait until Monday?
I’m going to be straight here – staying connected to your job 24/7 is the fast lane to depression, anxiety, or a whole host of other mental health issues. I’ve been that soldier – answering queries at 2am.
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
Your “personal time” is called personal for a reason, so don’t leave yourself open to a barrage of emails at weekends.
Set Clear Boundaries
Choose a specific time at the end of your working week when you will deliberately switch off from work.
And that means literally – you will switch off your phone, laptop, and any other work-related device you have.
This is a habit you will have to develop over time – it’s not going to come instantly or easily, but here’s how you do it.
Write down the habit you want to create, “At 6 pm on Friday evening I will switch off my laptop and work phone. I will not switch them on again until Monday at 8am.”
Then every time you complete this action give yourself a mental high-five, or even a physical one. Associate a feeling of “goodness” with turning off those devices.
If you have trouble creating habits, then do yourself a favor and check out Atomic Habits by James Clear.
Immerse Yourself In Your Hobby
You have got to make time for fun.
If you have an old hobby that you put down years ago, then why not pick it back up again?
And if you don’t have a hobby, then find yourself one. Hobbies don’t have to be expensive – they just need to be something that will distract you from thinking about work on Monday morning.
A hobby simply gives you the time to mentally unwind.
If you manage to produce anything during that time (woodwork, music, painting, etc.) that’s just a bonus.
Do Not Talk About Work
The single worst thing you can do is to spend your entire Saturday and Sunday bitching to your spouse, partner, or friends about how overworked you are, how much you hate your job, etc.
Your time with them would be much better spent doing something fun that has nothing at all to do with your job.
Also, people will start to avoid you if the only thing you ever talk about is work.
Keep your work life and your personal life separate from each other. Period.
Get Some Exercise
Even mild exercise gives your body a shot of endorphins – these are “feel good” chemicals.
So you don’t need to take up marathon running to help you relax and disconnect from your work guilt and anxiety.
Walking for 20 minutes will do the job.
Or spend a few minutes working out on a heavy bag at home – that’s a great way to blow off steam.
Yup, because most people have no tiring it is to wail on a heavy bag for more than 30 seconds.
If you’re too out of shape to do any kind of physical activity then start off with a gentle stretching routine – the horse stance is a great first step here.
There are times when nothing I’ve suggested above will work for you.
Because you’re working for an abusive employer – and they do exist. Companies where being overworked is the norm and “extra hours” are expected.
Jobs where you start with an unfair workload and it just gets worse from there.
Jobs that leave you so mentally fried that you don’t have the energy to do anything after work. Except maybe drink or get high to numb the pain of what you put up with each day.
Abusive employers never change. At best you’ll get promises of “improvements” but you’ll be left waiting months for something that never materializes.
So, if you are 100% certain that you are working for an abusive employer, then you should leave the split second you have another job to go to.
And bear in mind that self-employed people can become their own abusers too.
In fact, they can be worse than any big tech company in that regard.