Beating the ‘Sunday scaries’: How to avoid Monday morning dread

- July 13, 2023 3 MIN READ


The Sunday scaries, the Monday blues, simply the thought process and feeling of “I just don’t want to go to work” ... The Sunday scaries are real, and I can almost bet everyone has felt them to some level, says wellness expert Vesna Hrsto.

While we all love the weekend to relax and recharge, when that dreaded feeling of Monday slowly creeps in, it can be debilitating and leave you feeling tense, nervous and even scared. Mondays are inevitable, yet they’re still associated with dread.

What is it, and what are the dreaded symptoms?

Picture this. It’s a Sunday night, and you realise your Monday morning to-do list is already piled high. And there it is, that gut-sinking, squelching feeling.

That’s the Sunday scaries. It’s the thought and feeling of being so anxious about Monday that it can leave you feeling overwhelmed.

What causes it?

The root cause of the Sunday scaries is anticipatory anxiety. The “What if’s?” It’s the constant replay of catastrophic thoughts, over and over in your head, that your internal fears will come to life.

“Essentially, we humans live well enough and long enough, and are smart enough, to generate all sorts of stressful events purely in our heads.”

~ Professor Robert M. Sapolsky ~

These are the stories we tell ourselves that scare us.

  • “Can I cope with Monday?”
  • “What if I fail?”
  • “What if it all goes wrong?”

These questions begin circling in our heads and fill our minds with doubt. Combine this with the feeling of imposter syndrome, and you’re practically setting yourself up to fail.

LISTEN: Vesna Hrsto on the Flying Solo podcast

How to overcome it

While it may seem like a challenge, you can take hold of the Sunday scaries and flip the script.

1. Find the root cause

To start this process, you first need to locate the root cause of the problem. Delve into why you’re feeling anxious. Is it that you feel unprepared for your work day? Do you have a looming deadline you are worried you can’t meet?

Discovering the root cause will allow you to move forward with an actionable solution.

2. You’ve done it before, you can do it again

Imposter syndrome is something we’ve all felt before. It’s blurring the lines between fiction and reality. It’s when your mind is flooded with the worst possible catastrophic thoughts of a Monday.

When you start to feel these thoughts creeping in, you have to escape these thought traps to reach new levels of productivity. Remind yourself that you’ve gotten through thousands of Mondays before, so what’s different about this one?

3. Remove the noise

Once you’ve gained control of your thought patterns, you need to remove the noise. Noise and distractions immediately take away from productivity. To remain at a high-performing level, you have to remove the noise, distractions and notifications so you can home in and focus. How you do this needs to be something that works for you.

We’ve spoken before about creating a to-do later list. This is where you write down everything you must do later. It’s removing those niggling thoughts of I can’t forget to do that” and “I have to do this”.

Work out your priorities to create a fortress of removing the noise. One of the great methods to do this is the Eisenhower matrix. This combines urgent tasks but still considers what you can do later.

time management techniques - eisenhower decision matrix

4. Address mental wellbeing and underlying anxiety

As humans, we’re busy. Life is constantly moving forward, and it’s not stopping for anyone. However, there’s so much that we can control to improve our mental wellbeing and underlying anxiety.

When we add stress to the brain, stress hormones like cortisol skyrocket and leave us in disarray – causing us to feel even more anxious and unproductive. To combat this, we can control what we put into our bodies and our actions to improve our nutritional psychology.

  • Drink water, ideally five cups or more.
  • Nourish your body with a protein-filled breakfast.
  • Get ‘8 before 10’. Enjoy eight hours of sleep and get to bed before 10pm.
  • Embrace the caffeine-free brain. Avoid having coffee before breakfast; eat first and caffeinate later.

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Now read this:

How high achievers overcome anxiety and reach new levels of productivity