There’s a reason why the acronym T.G.I.F. has been wildly popular since the 1960s. The end of the typical Monday-Friday, 9-5 work week is a reason to celebrate and prepare for a weekend free from work. However, while T.G.I.F. expresses the joy for the coming weekend, in recent years, a term has been created that explains the dreaded feeling that occurs when the weekend comes to a close: The Sunday Scaries.

The weekend arrives and all is well until it hits. The dreaded, anxiety-inducing, gut-wrenching sensation that reminds you it’s Sunday. And for many people, Sunday means work is right around the corner yet again.

While feeling bummed as the weekend expires is normal, there are ways to manage the Sunday Scaries. Let’s take a look at the DOs and DON’Ts of combatting the Sunday Scaries.

1. DO Make Weekends Worth It | DON’T Overdo It

Have you ever made plans to engage in your hobbies, call a friend, go on a run and so many other activities for your weekend? Then, the actual weekend rolls around and for whatever reason you just…didn’t do anything? One reason for Sunday Scaries is realizing another weekend is gone and we didn’t really do what we planned or wanted. Now, we have to work a full week and wait until the next weekend to revisit those plans.

During the pandemic, it is a bit harder to participate in some activities, but there are still ways to maximize the weekend. One idea is making an activity menu like you see at a restaurant. Jot down things you like to do, anything from exercising to self care to browsing the internet to cooking to crafting. Then, on the weekend, if you feel bored or in the mood to do something, you can refer to your visual. A lot of us already know our favorite activities, but even getting around to reading the online article you saw during the work week can count as a fun activity that you might have forgotten about if you didn’t write it down. Filling your weekends with hobbies and things that make you feel good and release dopamine will make the impending week less scary.

On the flip side, rest is just as important as activities. Your time off is also time for you to rest your mind and body. So don’t overdo it if you feel exhausted. Listen to your mind and body; they know best!

2. DO Plan Ahead for the Work Week | DON’T Avoid Responsibilities

The fight or flight response is something we see in nature often. In a dangerous or threatening situation, animals either choose to fight the threat or flee the situation. The same is true for humans.  In stressful situations, we have the choice to either face what is coming or avoid it. While avoiding stress might feel okay in a moment, the issue is that the stress remains and therefore lingers in our mind, affecting our health.

Even individuals who enjoy their jobs face stressful situations and may not always look forward to a new week. Therefore, preparing for a new work week can actually ease those stressful feelings.

You might be going along, minding your own business on Sunday when you realize you have work tomorrow and a looming list of things to do. Instead of pushing that off until Monday morning, making a simple to-do list on Sunday can actually clear the thought from your mind. It’s a small way to prepare for the next day or week while easing your mind in the present.

A simple list of bullet points is enough to do the trick. It is psychologically proven that writing things down actually helps the mind. If you prefer not to make your list on a day off, you can always make it at the end of the work week and quickly revisit it on Sunday if you feel frazzled. A quick glance at your list can remind you that you know what’s on your plate and you are ready and capable of breaking it down when work begins.

Avoidance makes things more stressful. Facing what is coming might feel scary in the moment, but once you start, relief and enjoyment for the rest of your time off is a likely outcome.

3. DO Give Yourself Something to Look Forward to | DON’T Ignore Your Hard Work

One aspect of boosting productivity is not only taking breaks, but also giving yourself a treat to motivate yourself and celebrate your hard work.

The work week will look less dim if you plan little (or big) ways to surprise and treat yourself. This could mean bringing your favorite snack or planning a phone call with your best friend after a long day. It could be ordering cookies for the office or stepping outside and getting fresh air.

For example, Nadia, a customer service representative, loves to cook. She chooses 3 unique dinner recipes to make after work, and this gives her something to look forward to. Louis, an engineer, keeps a photo of his dog on his desk, and it reminds him that after work he will see his dog.

Treating yourself shows that you are proud of yourself and recognize the hard work you are doing. It is a form of self care. Ignoring your efforts or downplaying the work you do can create a negative mood, or simply minimize your labors. Brainstorm small or even big ways you can treat yourself during the work week. After all, weekends are not exclusively for having fun and enjoying yourself. An enjoyable work week can make a big difference in how you feel about your job and quality of life.

4. DO Get to the Bottom of the Fear | DON’T Stay Miserable

As mentioned earlier, even people who really enjoy their jobs get the Sunday Scaries. The Sunday Scaries can happen to anyone. However, sometimes the feeling of dread and anxiety could be a sign of something deeper. It is always a good idea to check in with your feelings and thoughts.

Journaling is a great way to see what’s going on within. Other methods such as talking your feelings out with a loved one, therapy and introspection are all good options as well. Getting to the bottom of your anxiety and reluctance can be monumentally helpful.

Perhaps, you have a fear of failure, or maybe there are aspects to your work bringing you down. It could be time to work through fears or even switch careers. These things take time, and sometimes there are roadblocks. However, gradually working out the core of the issue is better than remaining miserable. Remember, you deserve respect and a general sense of wellbeing. While your job may not be your absolute favorite thing in the world, it also should not be something you loathe that lowers your quality of life.

If possible, check in with yourself and your feelings and make a plan to work through the obstacles, even if it takes time.

The Sunday Scaries happen to the best of us. The weekend is seen as a time of celebration, relaxation and freedom. However, that doesn’t mean the work week has to be bad. Trying different methods can improve our overall mindset and wellbeing. After all, many of us spend a good chunk of our time at work. Remember to make your weekends worth it, whatever that means to you. Plan ahead for the coming week and get your To-Do List out on paper and out of your mind for the time being. Treat yourself during the workweek and plan fun activities to look forward to. Finally, get in touch with yourself and see what’s going on. At the end of the day, you deserve to enjoy your life.