I remember feeling this giant sense of relief when I first learned the term "Sunday Scaries." Every weekend, I would experience what I could really only describe as a sudden onset of overwhelming dread for the work day or work week ahead that manifested into anxiety and over criticizing every move my husband made (you can ask him, it wasn’t pretty) – I just couldn’t put words to it. And then one day, someone said it. I can’t even remember who said it but if you’re out there and you’re reading this and you’re the one who introduced me to the term Sunday Scaries, please let me know so I can thank you.
Hearing the words, learning that there was a name for it, and mostly? Leaning that I wasn’t alone (!!) was a huge relief for me. The problem solver and self-help junkie in me went to work to get to the root of why these Sunday Scaries were affecting me so much and what I could do to get rid of this feeling.
I tried many things before I realized that all the “things” I tried were ultimately helping to create one incredibly necessary and life changing habit: The habit of being present. Today, I’m sharing the 4 tools that were most helpful in keeping my Sunday Scaries at bay and also led me to a powerful habit of being present.
*Keep in mind: these tools are also helpful for any form of “scaries” and not just your Sunday Scaries.
Before we get into the tools you can use to create a habit of being present, let me first explain what I mean when I say “create a habit of being present.” No one is present 100% of the time. Therefore, this is more than just deciding to be present. Our brains and our genetics are not designed that way. The act of being present is a conscious effort that you have to choose to make, the more you choose presence, the easier the habit will come but keep in mind, good habits take time to create but here are the 4 habits I found most effective:
1. Practice Self-Awareness
To create self-awareness around your scaries, just simply try to notice when the feeling arrives. When it arrives, start to pay attention to how your breathing, thoughts, and even body language might change. Don’t try to fix anything in this step, just create the awareness so that you start to learn if there are any patterns or triggers. A lot of people I know rely on brunch (which is often centered around mimosas) to put their scaries on the back burner but what those people might not know is that alcohol can actually trigger stress and anxiety. Now, I’m not saying this is true for everyone and I am definitely not suggesting you cut brunch out of your schedule. I’m a huge fan. I’m only suggesting that you start to create some awareness around what may or may not trigger that Sunday Scary feeling for you. That’s all!
I made a huge effort to make myself aware of when that nervous, anxious, Sunday crashing feeling was coming. Self-awareness is one of the hardest things to really know if you have or not. I consider myself a very self-aware person but I found it helpful to have someone else committed to helping me notice when my behavior was starting to change. In my case, my husband was more than willing to help point it out and offer a solution (he’s a good sport & a great guy.) Try to find a buddy that will help hold you accountable to solving your scaires, k?
2. Take a small action
When I was in my corporate job at a fitness start-up, the work schedule was crazy and I found myself working most weekends. At a certain point, I made the decision to not open or answer email on the weekends. I thought I was taking a big stand for myself to really create some work life balance. Well, after months of dealing with these Sunday Scaries, I started to realize that I was actually stressing myself out more by not checking in on my email. So, I started to spend 20-30 minutes every Sunday morning combing through my e-mail for any emergencies and making a killer to-do list for Monday morning. Woah, was that a game changer!? Yes, it was.
Scheduling 30 minutes on Sunday to ensure that I was prepared for the week or day ahead really allowed be to actually enjoy my Sunday and be present to whatever I was doing rather than internally stressing and worrying over what I was going to walk into the next day.
Of course, this solution might not work for everyone. This is why practicing self-awareness and really getting to know yourself and your individual triggers is so necessary.
3. Be intentional with your time
Have you ever had one of those binge-watch-Netflix-binge-eat-delivery Sundays (or weekends?!) only to be left feeling incredibly guilty that you “did nothing” all weekend even though you probably needed the rest and recovery? Oh, me either… ;-)
Sometimes, the reason we feel so guilty about a guilty weekend is because we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to live our weekends to the fullest until we are back to the grind but that’s a lot of pressure and everyone needs downtime. Try planning your weekends, days off, and downtime – even if it consists of Netflix, pizza, and a whole lot of nothing. I know…it sounds kind of lame, especially if you’re a fly by the seat of your pants type of person but just trust me and try it.
When you plan ahead and you’re intentional with your time, it allows you to be fully present – even to your Scandal marathon. I mean why watch it if you can’t truly enjoy it?
When my Sunday Scaries were at their worst, I was starting to feel them on Friday afternoon before I ever left the office. Yes, it’s as frightening as it sounds. This was also right around the time that I started practicing meditation. If you’re a meditation skeptic, don’t stop reading just yet. I was a huge skeptic, too. I can’t tell you how much meditation as helped my Sunday Scaries, my life, my brain, and my ability to choose how I want to respond in almost any situation.
A lot of people think that mediation is a given amount of time where you’re thinking of absolutely nothing – and while that’s the goal, that’s not entirely true (or possible?!) What I have gained most from meditation happens in those many moments throughout meditation where you realize you’ve stopped meditating and return to your mantra or breathing (all dependent on what type of meditation you are practicing)
Those moments of realizing you’ve slipped out of the present moment and then training your brain to return to the present moment – those moments have been the post powerful for me in creating a habit of being present. Truly, it’s a type of circuit training for your brain.
*If you want to learn more about meditation for beginners and/ or want to see a post on how to get started, let me know in the comments or contact me. I could talk about it all day.
It’s time to take some action: I’d love for you to pick 1 of these 4 tools to help create a habit of being present and try it out this week – or ASAP. As always, I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Which tool did you find most impactful or what tools would you add to this list?
For anyone wanting more in depth coaching on creating a habit of being present and taking intentional action in your life, book a complimentary 20-minute consultation/ mini coaching session and we can talk some serious strategy.
Thanks for reading!