The Positive Pensive

An anxious pessimist tries to find the positive
A weekly planner open on Sunday
Career Wellbeing

The dreaded Sunday night syndrome

For most 9-5 workers, we spend a lot of our time counting down the hours until the weekend. Even so, many of us are all-too-accustomed to that sinking feeling around 6pm on a Sunday night.

Mike and I even have a thing where we refer to ourselves as feeling ‘real Sunday’. It’s that feeling you get on Sunday of simply not being able to compute. Shopping trips become mammoth efforts, deciding what to have for dinner is nigh on impossible, basic decisions become complicated maths problems.

This feeling only seems to get worse as the day goes on. And, for me it’s a weird one. It’s not that I even dislike my work. I enjoy the job I have and the people I get to see. My workplace offers flexible hours and different work spaces, so even if I’m not feeling so hot one day I can switch it up a bit and work in a way that suits me.

So what is it about Sundays – and particularly, Sunday evening – that gives us these unwelcome feelings? And what can we do to ease it a little?

Why is Sunday night so rubbish, anyway?

I think there are a few things at play here – none of which will be all that surprising to anyone who’s ever said ‘I can’t believe it’s already Sunday night!’.

Anticipation… or dread

Got a big meeting coming up? A hard deadline? A lot of travel? Sometimes the anticipation alone of what you’ll be dealing with can be overwhelming by itself. I often wonder whether I’ll have used up all my energy just being anxious about the forthcoming week, and if I’ll have the energy to stay calm and clear-headed when it comes to actually carrying out the tasks.

Thanks, brain.

Expectations to meet

On top of anticipation, there’s the expectation that you’ll be able to do it all without a hitch. We want everything to go smoothly, right? Sundays are so full of friggen mystery and possibility. Some people are totally cool with that and find it exciting. I just find more stuff to ruminate on.

Thanks, brain.

The need to feel energised

…so given the two previous points, it’s a good idea to get a nice early night so you’re fresh and ready to conquer the world, right?

So why is it the exact night I need a solid amount of rest to gear myself up for the week ahead, my mind is fired up with thoughts, concerns, ideas, and worries? I’ve just had two days off work. I should be feeling rested.

LOL, NOPE. Thanks again, brain.

Taking the stress out of Sunday

Monday mornings will always be the sign that we can’t lie in, relax, or do as we please for another working week. Still, all is not lost! There are a definitely few things we can try to alleviate some of that doom and gloom.

  1. Take that extra bit of time on Friday

It’s all too tempting to run out of the door at 5pm on Friday – but take a second and get your shit sorted. The last thing you want is to be fretting on Sunday night about what you did or didn’t do, and what you should’ve already prepared for the week ahead.

There should be no need to stay late, but do take a minute to leave yourself some notes if need be. It’ll help you find your footing quickly come Monday morning.

  1. Arrange fun during the week

For the weeks where I have meetings I’m dreading or general tasks I’m not too enthused about (hey, we all have them), I plan something fun. It doesn’t even need to involve anyone else, although that’s cool too. But hey, once I’ve got to the end of a tough day, chilling out guilt-free in front of Netflix is sometimes just the ticket.

  1. Treat yoself

This week I worked a 15-hour day, involving getting up and heading for the airport at 5.30am. Working away can sound glamorous, but in reality it’s pretty tiring. For the big accomplishments, I make sure I reward myself – a bit of Bombay Sapphire in duty free and a Nando’s on the way home is a pretty solid choice 😉

  1. Put the work phone down

I’m being serious. You’re not being paid for this. That email can wait until Monday. All you’re doing is giving yourself more nonsense to think about and organise before you can fall asleep on Sunday night.


  1. It’s the last few precious hours of your weekend – find a way to unwind that works for you

This isn’t rocket science. A bit of yoga, an audiobook, a bath, a chill video game – whatever floats your boat. Just make sure that whatever it is, it’s quality time spent doing something you enjoy.


How do you beat the Sunday blues? Let me know on Twitter, Facebook, or in the comments section.

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