A Therapist Offers 2 Strategies To Help You Beat The Sunday Blues
Does your weekend high taper off by Sunday afternoon? Here are a couple of ways you can overcome the Sunday Scaries.
By Jourdan Travers, LCSW | September 10, 2023
Sunday evenings are a notoriously difficult time for many of us. Whether it's the sinking feeling from realizing another weekend has passed while you were idly scrolling through TikTok, or discovering the pile of work you intended to catch up on over the weekend, many of us struggle with the reality check that Sunday evenings tend to be.
However, there are a few science-backed strategies you can use to recalibrate your mind to make the last hours of the weekend exciting rather than anxiety-inducing. Here are two.
1. Engage In Shared Activities With People You Connect With To Keep The Sunday Blues At Bay
Research has shown that social connection and engagement in leisure activities with others can have a transformative impact on mental health and well-being.
For instance, a 2020 study found that among factors associated with depression, including lack of sleep, weak social connection and an unhealthy diet, a strong and robust social circle was the strongest protective factor for depression. This was true even in the case of individuals who may have had a genetic or biological predisposition towards depressive symptoms.
Another 2020 study conducted at Harvard University and published in the Journal of Positive Psychology and Wellbeing found that when it comes to shared activities, picking activities that have to do with your social relationships and institutional commitments like volunteering for a cause you care about or joining a community organization can have a substantial effect on well-being.
By engaging in shared activities with people you connect with, you can strengthen your social connections and improve your mood. This can help reduce anxiety and feelings of loneliness, which are common on Sunday evenings. Whether it's going for a walk with a friend, organizing a pickleball tournament in your neighborhood or participating in a group fitness class, there are many ways to engage in shared activities with others.
Making time for these activities on Sunday evenings not only improves your mood and reduces anxiety but also makes the final hours of your weekend more enjoyable. Plus, as an added bonus, if you have something fun to look forward to on a Sunday evening, you'd have no time to wallow in your Sunday sadness.
2. Maintain a Consistent Sleep-Wake Cycle
A 2021 study conducted on 2115 trainee physicians assessed sleep with a wearable device, daily mood with a smartphone application and depression through the 9-item Patient Health Questionnaire over the demanding first year of physician training. It found that reduced total sleep time, later bedtime, along with increased variability in total sleep time and in wake time were associated with more depressive symptoms in the long-term. In the short-term, the study found that the absence of a consistent circadian rhythm led to poorer mood throughout the following day.
Thus, maintaining sleep consistency and ensuring adequate sleep duration are essential for mood enhancement and anxiety reduction, especially if you find that your sleep patterns shift drastically over the weekends.
To reclaim your Sunday evenings, one of the best things you can do is set a regular bedtime and stick to it, even on weekends. This can help your body clock adjust to a consistent rhythm and make it easier to fall asleep and wake up at the same time every day. Another way is to expose yourself to natural light in the morning, which can help signal to your brain that it is time to wake up and start the day. You can also use an alarm clock that gradually increases the brightness or volume, or one that plays pleasant sounds or music, to make waking up more gentle and enjoyable.
Leveraging the benefits of social interactions and maintaining a consistent sleep cycle are proven methods to elevate your mood. Implementing these approaches not only provides immediate relief to your Sunday evening blues but also shifts your perception of weekends as a whole. Instead of dreading the last hours of your weekend, you'll have the tools to make them a highlight, ensuring that every bit of your weekend is enjoyed to its fullest.