Stress Mangement and Mastery: How to Defeat Sunday Night Syndrome


Picture the following scene:

It's Sunday evening, the weekend is winding down and you're beginning to think about the work week ahead. What are your feelings?

Do you find yourself excited and challenged, looking forward to another week of doing something you love? The most fortunate among us get to feel that way on a regular basis.

Or are you instead feeling something else, perhaps anxiety or even dread? That's a special kind of anxiety and stress I call "Sunday Night Syndrome."

All of us experience some form of SNS from time to time. What's important is how often and how severe it is.

Mild Sunday Night Syndrome

In most people, the anxiety usually begins Sunday evening, but it passes quickly and is gone by the time you arrive at work. This feeling is probably the result of working continuously for five days a week and having only two days off during which to recover.

What to do:

Relax and remember: The feeling will pass.

Rent a movie, play a game, enjoy being with family and friends.

Moderate Sunday Night Syndrome

The next stage of SNS is characterized by increasing anxiety as the work week approaches. The anxiety begins earlier in the day and doesn't pass as easily as mild SNS.

You begin to stay up later and later on Sunday night, in the hope of keeping Monday morning from arriving. As a result, you feel tired and sluggish on Monday, which leaves you ill-equipped to deal with your feelings and your work.

Other symptoms include increased irritability and inattentiveness around family and friends, as well as deteriorating work performance. Colleagues and supervisors may begin to notice changes at this point.

What to do:

In addition to the above suggestions, make sure you get to bed early enough to be rested the next day.

Identify things about your job that you can feel good about, or even look forward to.

As crazy as it sounds, some people have found that going into the office or doing some work at home seems to help.

If going into the office is not possible, being as prepared as possible can help.

Severe Sunday Night Syndrome

The third level of SNS doesn't wait until Sunday to arrive. It begins Saturday or even Friday after work.

By the time Sunday evening rolls around, folks with severe SNS are experiencing strong anxiety and dread.

Some people become physically ill at the prospect of another work week. Depression is common at this point, as well as drinking too much alcohol.

What to do:

What underlies your emotions and reactions? If you don't examine this issue, the feelings might just grow stronger.

It could be time to consider a change, either in the details of your job or perhaps an entire change of job or career.

Consult a career counselor to look at your options.

Make sure you are doing something, from talking about it to physical exercise, in order to relieve the stress.

You might want to seek counseling to help you manage the stress, emotions and decisions involved.

Remember: If it's hurting you, it's not likely to be helping anyone else.

What's more, there are three books I've recommended before that you might find useful:

"Chicken Soup for the Soul at Work" by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen

"Heart at Work" by Jack Canfield and Jacqueline Miller

"Care Packages for the Workplace" by Barbara Glanz

All of us experience some form of Sunday Night Syndrome from time to time. It's how we respond that makes the difference.

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