They were tell-tale signs of any weekend coming to an end: sunshine was fading into darkness, Mom was sitting on the couch reading the Sunday paper before bed, and the infamous “dun-dun” music was signaling the beginning of another episode of Law & Order SVU. Sunday nights were always fairly routine in my house, especially the always-timely buzz of dread I felt from anticipating the week ahead.
I’ve always struggled with what my mom called the “Sunday Night Blues”: you know, that feeling of anxiety or unrest in the pit of ones stomach when they haven’t checked their work email all weekend, or when that little red exclamation point that marks an “urgent” message feels like it was branded onto your brain before you left the office on Friday. When I was a kid, the anxiety was always related to something going on at school the next day. Now, it’s really mostly about the anticipation of my inbox on a Monday morning (no one should ever, ever have to deal with the site of my inbox on a Monday morning.)
After years of Sunday night struggles, I put a list together of the practical things I’ve learned over the years that help calm the waters when infinite emails await:
1. To steal a line from The Eagles, Take it Easy. This is the basis for all other Sunday night blues remedies. Snuggle up on the couch, do things that soothe the soul, and try to run all the errands on Saturday if you can. Make this a day where it’s at least an option to do absolutely nothing.
2. Prepare for the week ahead. Yes, I know: I just told you to take it easy. But being prepared is a big part of taking it easy so that you’re not taking it crazy during the workweek. Make it so Monday morning can be as serene as possible: do the dishes, leave out whatever you need for the next day so you’re not scrambling when the alarm goes off.
3. Speaking of alarms, set the alarm a little earlier than usual. I’m sure a few eyeballs just popped out of their respective heads, but give me a moment to explain. I’m a professional snooze-button-pusher, but come Monday morning, all bets are off. Here’s why: I think it’s important to give yourself a little more time than usual for you when the week begins. Whatever it is you like doing – working out, writing, just sitting with a cup of coffee – give yourself time before the week begins to just reconnect with yourself. It makes the week ahead much easier, and helps you get in touch with whatever intentions or ideas you want to put into action during the 9 to 5.
4. Clean house. Clean spaces make for clear minds. In an effort to have a clearer mind myself, I try to keep my spaces as clean as possible to avoid the anxiety caused by clutter. Things like cleaning my desk before I leave work on Friday, getting the crumbs out of my car seats and de-cluttering my apartment make all the difference in the world when it comes to maintaining my serenity.
5. Take responsibility only for what’s yours. In a workplace environment, where people are often individually responsible for a whole lot at once, it’s important to remember what’s actually your responsibility and what’s not. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve checked in with myself about what I’m so frantic over and realized it actually falls under someone else’s umbrella of responsibility. It’s easy to get caught up in the game of making sure no stone goes unturned to save face, but if the impending crisis that awaits on Monday really has nothing to do with you, than try to remind yourself that you’re not solely responsible for holding the whole world together. There are tons of forces out there working in your favor: let them do their job while you see to doing only the one to which you were assigned.
6. Ask yourself what you’re really afraid of. Usually, what I think I’m afraid of isn’t really what I’m actually afraid of. When I get to the core of what’s worrying me, I try to come to terms with that fear actualizing itself. If I can visualize myself at peace even in the “worst case scenario”, I can remember that no matter what happens, I’m going to be okay.
7. Plan things to look forward to. The week doesn’t have to be all about work – in fact, it shouldn’t be. Make time to see friends throughout the week and plan gatherings or activities with yourself that put a spring in your step.
8. Hand it over. I have something I call a “God Box” (you can call it a “universe box” or whatever floats your boat) that I use to let go of everything I’m afraid of. After writing down all of my worries on individual pieces of paper, I’ll put them in this box next to my bed and give them over to the universe. It’s my way (and many others’ way – I did not come up with this ) of letting go and letting God when there’s nothing I can do about something that’s troubling me. Many times, months after I’ve written something down, I’ll pull it out of the box to find it’s been resolved in some way I never would have expected. Doing this over and over serves as a great reminder that everything will be okay in the end…
…because as we’ve been told over and over, everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, then it’s not the end.
(Authors note: Yes. This even applies to Mondays.)