Whatever happened to Sunday Funday? It’s all fun and games until that feeling of dread creeps in upon realizing that you have to go to work tomorrow. First you feel an increase in your heart rate and then, without even recognizing why, you stop enjoying what you are doing in the moment. There you are, curled up with a bowl of popcorn on your lap and an episode of Orange is the New Black on the TV when you suddenly find yourself ruminating over an impending deadline or an unsettling conversation you had with your boss the past week. BAM!! Sunday Funday takes a turn for the worst, becoming Sunday Dread-day.
Whether this feeling of dread is a new occurrence, comes and goes occasionally, or is something that has plagued you every Sunday for years, you may not know a way to resolve it. Fortunately, there are solutions, but they don’t always come easy and you will have to commit to doing some work. Start by increasing your awareness of the triggers.
Figure out what is at the root of your dread
Is it your commute? Are you being underpaid, overworked or undervalued? Do you have a bad boss, conflict among coworkers, or an unsupportive work environment? Are you struggling to meet tight deadlines on a regular basis? Perhaps you are in the wrong industry altogether and are eager for a change but don’t know where to start?
Gain clarity by writing it down
Write down a list of different factors that impact your satisfaction at work over the course of a day (i.e. commute, workload, team, boss, workplace culture, etc). Use a spreadsheet, journal, or an app on your smartphone. After writing down the items, next indicate to what extent you could make a change to better the situation, using the controllability scale, from 1-100. In the final column, indicate how fulfilled you feel, also on a scale from 1-100.
This list may be a one-time endeavor that brings you enough clarity to tune in to and start contemplating changes that need to happen. If you need more time to understand your feelings and get to the root of the dread, you might want to look at your schedule over the course of a week and measure your work day activity, as well as your emotional reaction to it.
After making your list, you may gain the clarity you need to make a change. One of the following general insights might describe the way you feel.
"I actually have it pretty good at work and what I need to change is how I structure my time so I can get more out of my weekends, live in the moment and avoid stressing out about work until Monday comes". See the section on "Coping and Adapting" below for ideas how to do this.
"I am unhappy about A, B or C, but I have some control over these things and will figure out how to change them. I plan to put this out there and ask for the help I need from colleagues, a mentor, friends/family or seek professional help from a career coach or therapist".
"Wow – things are pretty bad when I really face it. I need to explore making a bigger change. Time to start networking and exploring other opportunities and ask for help from colleagues, mentor, friends/family or seek professional help from a career coach or therapist".
Coping and Adapting
Regardless of how dismal this chart might look once you put it all on paper, the good news is that you can change your relation to it by how you cope and adapt. Humans are amazingly resilient creatures. Whether you pursue active ways to change what you don’t like at work or actually work to change your job, you are going to have to deal with the added stress. You need your weekend time to recharge your batteries. Here are some helpful ideas:
1. Set goals for the weekend and stick to them; if it’s to sleep in until 10:00 am and read the Sunday Times until noon, so be it- enjoy and relish it knowing that you’ve allowed for it.
2. Consider a rule to NOT check work emails all day Sunday. This means you will have to ensure your ducks are in a row when you leave the office Friday, or dedicate 30 minutes on Saturday.
3. Set a goal to spend 45 minutes to an hour at a specific time to check your emails and your schedule for the week. Then let go of useless ruminations and worries as you’ve got it covered once the day begins on Monday.
4. Read a book or watch a favorite show before bed for at least 30 minutes to tune out and immerse yourself in a different world.
5. Recite an affirmation; what do you like about what you do? What are you especially good at? What is some positive feedback that a colleague gave you recently? What is one accomplishment in your past that helps you know your value? Write these down and refer to them as needed when your confidence is low.
6. Meditation – it works! Download one of many mediation aiding apps – on my iPhone, I Like “Calm” from calm.com, and it’s free. Take time to do a “breathing Space” or an “awareness of experience" daily.
7. Make time for “mindless” activities like exercise. Believe it or not, but most quality, innovative thinking comes to us when our minds are relaxed as your brain is not stressed. Give yourself time to relax, sleep, and do what you enjoy. When you are in midst of a life transition and contemplating big changes, remind yourself of the value of this time as it will help you make progress towards your goals.
If you are one of the many people who finds yourself with the Sunday Dreads, then try implementing these tools and strategies. I'd love to know how they work for you so please "comment" and share!