Written by
Caroline Jacomb

Published
22 Dec 2016

Beat the Sunday night feeling

22 Dec 2016 • by Caroline Jacomb

The fundamental problem with the Sunday night feeling is that fact that we are constantly, mentally racing forward. We are our own worst enemies because we ruin the precious day that is Sunday, or really any ‘today’ worrying about tomorrow. It’s a very self-destructive mentality because it achieves precisely nothing, other than ruining the present. 

There have been a few articles and videos on social media in the last few weeks about the problem with seeing life as a journey. Because, in viewing it in such a way, your life mentality is presuming that you’re on your way somewhere, that you’re in transit somehow, waiting to ‘arrive’… But arrive where? What is this mythical destination, quite honestly other than death? And this is particularly valid when it comes to the Sunday blues.

No more Sunday Blues

If we shift our perspective from seeing life as a journey and rather experience it like you would a dance or a piece of music, then the focus shifts from the destination to the present. From this standpoint it is interesting to analyse our ‘heres’ and ‘nows’ to establish in what instances we feel at our best and what moments fill us with a sinking feeling we would rather not have. You might even keep a note of these moments and when feeling reflective read back and consider what these moments say about you. What you would like to be doing more of? What you would ideally avoid? See if these give you any pointers to assess opportunities for change. 

If you manage people at work, then asking them to make this kind of ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ journal, and taking the time to have really honest discussions about the lists people come up with will give you an invaluable insight into your team. It will help you to understand their individual and group dynamics and not only make them feel more understood but could potentially give you some inspiring ideas around how you can allocate the roles within the group, or plan for somebody’s progression in a way that will give them an invaluable sense of fulfilment. 

If we spend an average forty hours each week at work and every Sunday the feeling of dread is that bad, then instead of spending Sunday agonising over Monday, spend Sunday planning what would make Monday better? What does fulfilment look like for you? The cathartic exercise of coming up with ideas, a plan, can be a most empowering thing.

If you really consider the peaks and troughs of your week, the things that inspired those and gain a deeper understanding of what it is you love, and would like to be doing then you gain a sense of what your priorities are for feeling fulfilled. Alain de Botton suggests you keep ‘an envy diary’ of instances when you hear of something somebody does and feel a pang of jealousy. Those pangs will give you a window into what it is you crave from work. If you get to the bottom of this, then think about what it would take to make the changes you desire. Sometimes we become overwhelmed with the barriers to change but taking time to assess the true importance of these barriers versus your happiness can make a real difference.

If the change feels too big a leap for you then consider if a stepping stone could help. For example, try taking up a new hobby related to the change in order to broaden your sense of fulfilment- who knows where it might take you or whom you might meet?

Top tips to alleviating the Sunday Blues:

  1. Write it down: Keep a journal of the most fulfilling and most disheartening aspects of your role. If you are a manager, ask your team to do this too and discuss with your colleagues the peaks and troughs of your week in an attempt to come up with strategies to heighten the highs and reduce the lows.
     
  2. Start with small steps: Once you have identified the aspects of your life that need to change, get busy changing. Don’t wait until Sunday to dread the new week. Set yourself a goal, write it down and commit to it. To change one small thing can make a big difference. These small steps every day fuel your sense of momentum and help you on your way to a brighter Monday.
     
  3. Take time to savour: Do everything you can to be mindful of the present, and live there. Practice the art of savouring, set yourself a challenge to reflect for 1 minute a day on all the things you are grateful for in the present time. It is one thing to plan ahead, but another to waste your life concerning yourself with either the errors of the past or anxiety about the future. If you can, make time on a Monday morning to ease yourself back into your routine. 

The key and most important points of all are two fold: Firstly, do not waste your life worrying about tomorrow when today is what matters most. Secondly, and most critically: Believe in yourself, if you can improve the status quo or make a change for the benefit of your happiness, then never shy away on account of the voices in your head telling you that you don’t have what it takes, because quite honestly, you’re the only you you’ve got and this is your only life.

So enjoy your Christmas break, savour the time with your family and friends and try to begin the new year with a renewed sense of energy and commitment to make the most of every day.