For as long as I’ve held a Monday to Friday, 9-5 job, I’ve struggled to manage my Sunday anxiety. What fire will be waiting for me to put out Monday morning? What decision is going to come back to bite me? Who is going to be in crisis? What’s going to blow up?
When I stop and think about it, I know that these are the fears I face every Sunday. But they aren’t what I actually think about. That would be too easy.
Every Sunday around 3pm, I start to feel it: the energy of anxiety buzzing in my head. But I don’t notice the energy directly. Instead, I notice that my family gets really annoying. I notice that my front door isn’t closing properly and I need to move the weather stripping over by a half-inch (or some other totally unnecessary but suddenly urgent DIY project that causes me to empty the contents of my garage onto my kitchen counter and quickly get overwhelmed). I get really irritated that I haven’t relaxed enough this weekend; it’s almost over, and I’m the only person in my whole family who seems to care about living in a house that is clean and not falling apart!
Stop pautchkating; sit down and relax!
Typically, this 2-3 hour Sunday marathon is punctuated by Mike telling me to sit down and stop “pautchkating”. I’m not sure if it’s an actual word, but pautch-ka/ting is the term my Ukrainian-speaking parents and grandparents used to describe the non-stop puttering-around that the women in my family are known for. I may come by it honestly, but let’s be clear, I am the world champion when it comes to Sunday afternoon pautchkating.
I know you’re smart enough to know that pautchkating is just a substitution for not managing my anxiety about the unknowns of the coming work week. And yes, that nervous energy does help me get a lot done. Of course, the drawbacks outweigh the benefits.
A typical Sunday night: how the anxiety builds
- Before I know it, it’s 7pm and I still haven’t started dinner.
- And when we don’t eat until 8, I get hangry and pick a fight with one of the kids.
- Our quiet Sunday night becomes eerily quiet when, after a tense dinner, all four of us retreat to different corners of the house to avoid one another. Everyone stews in their own irritation.
- I sit in my brain and continue to think about all of the ways that I get taken for granted as a parent and spouse.
- Sometimes, I’ll go find a family member to share just how frustrated and hurt I am (at least that’s what it sounds like in my head before it comes out of my mouth).
- Another snippy fight. More silence. Internet research on how to get my family to help out more.
- Damn it! It’s already 11:30 pm and I still haven’t showered and prepped for tomorrow.
- I’m in bed by 12:30 am. But my brain is still going (I finally thought of the best comeback for that entitled comment earlier).
- By 2:00 am I finally fall asleep.
- When the alarm goes off at 6:30, I feel like a bag of garbage. And guess what? So does everyone else.
It doesn’t have to be this way! Manage your anxiety with these tips.
If this sounds even vaguely familiar, I’m happy to share that this rarely happens for me anymore. And I’m confident that you can take control of your Sunday jitters too. Start with these three steps.
Look your anxiety straight in the face.
My clients often tell me they avoid looking at their calendar or email because “I want to enjoy my weekend.” But we all know that avoiding just builds negative energy. Your brain starts to play the “what if” game, and your anxiety ratchets up throughout the day.
Instead, take 15 minutes, ideally within about an hour of getting up. Sit down with your phone/computer/planner and:
- look at your calendar to see what you ACTUALLY have on tomorrow – and for the rest of the week
- scan your email for priorities that you need to start advancing
- schedule time for those priorities into your week
Determine what you need to have a great week.
Now that you have a sense of what your week will look like, you can estimate the amount of disaster preparedness you need to do. If your week is packed, there is potential for something to go sideways. What would be helpful so that the rest of your life doesn’t suffer? Maybe this means assigning the kids to vacuum duty. Plan to order in pizza Monday. Ask your partner to take care of groceries this week. At work, can you move a few unnecessary meetings? Schedule some creativity time for yourself? Outsource or delegate some work?
Ask yourself one question to get at these answers: What would help to make my week easier? Then ask for it.
Manage a positive transition into the work week.
It’s Sunday morning and you now have a handle on what your week is going to be like. What do you need from today so that you can have a great week?
Plan your day around meeting YOUR needs. Maybe you love the feeling of driving a clean car. Well, go get yourself a delicious coffee, then sit in the Sunday carwash lineup and listen to that podcast you haven’t had time for all week. Do you need to kick off your week with a sweat session or extended meditation session? Go for a walk? Paint something? Bake something? Who can you call for a visit – whose cup can you fill, while filling your own? Be sure to plan your evening for a smooth transition into your week. If you cook, plan dinner and set an alarm to remind you when it’s time to start prepping. And set an alarm for when you need to start getting ready for bed.
Just like you asked yourself what you needed to make your week better, ask what you need to make your Sunday great. Then go do it.
How will you manage your Sunday anxiety?
Which of these tips are you going to try this week? Tell me in the comments and share your own tips for dealing with the Sunday jitters.