RII's Vice President of People, Erin Fristoe, shares how she sets herself up for success to shake off the "Sunday Scaries."
My weekends have always been plagued by the “Sunday Scaries.” Long before I actually knew the term, it was very present in my life. As a child, I remember watching football on Sunday nights with my family and then constantly feeling sick while getting ready to go to bed. (I know what you are thinking, but my football team won three Super Bowls while this was going on, so that is not what was making me sick). My mom would calm me down and ask what was going on or if I were nervous about school. I never thought much of it at the time because it always seemed like a physical illness that only reared its head on Sunday nights. Now I know better.
It was only a few years ago that someone told me that the “Sunday Scaries” were a real thing and suddenly, I was transported back to those 1980s Sunday nights. The whole “Sunday Funday” nonsense was generally lost on me because Sunday inevitably meant that the dawn of the next work week was ahead (which was particularly weird given that I’ve really loved my last few jobs). And once you partner that natural born anxiety with working in fast-paced environments where those emails start piling up on Sunday night, it’s not the “Sunday Funday” recipe you’d look for.
I’ve recently found that there are a few things I do on Sundays to help me manage that scary feeling and if they work for me, they might work for you.
Check your Monday calendar
It’s one of the last things I do before I go to bed. It seems like it would have the opposite effect, but it actually helps me. I can look at the day ahead and assess what I have on my plate. Sometimes just having a full understanding of what your day is going to look like is very helpful. That way I feel in control of what is coming in a few hours and it helps me feel a little more relaxed as I go to sleep knowing there won’t be any surprises for which I’m woefully unprepared.
Do your house chores
So, if I’m being honest here (and I have to be because my husband is likely reading this), I’m not a big “chores” person. Look, we are all good at certain things and chores are not my strong suit. BUT, that said, I do have chores that I have to get done on Sundays. I absolutely feel more at ease when I’m going to sleep on a Sunday knowing that I have my grocery shopping completed and I’m not laying in bed, staring up at the ceiling wondering if it is too late to run over to the store to grab the kids’ breakfasts for the week. Or asking myself, “Did I decide to put off getting gas in my car and now I’ve pushed it to tomorrow morning when I’m driving kids to school or going to work or whatever the case is?” There are simple chores that I can check off my list that only eat up a few minutes in real life, but if left unchecked, they will eat up hours in my wide awake brain on Sunday nights.
Call your mom, your dad, or someone you love
It’s easy and overlooked. And it doesn’t have to be a call in the traditional sense. It’s more so to ease the thoughts of “have I talked to my parents lately?” or “did I ever text that person back?” Sometimes I lie awake thinking about all the people that I haven’t talked to recently and my mind starts racing and before I know it, I’m wondering why I haven’t reached out to my 3rd grade patrol partner in 20 years because, hey, we’re friends on Facebook. For me personally, if I know I’ve taken a few minutes to be in contact with my parents, it makes a world of difference (and not to oversell it, but probably to them, too). Maybe it’s not your parents for you, but figure out if there is someone you check in with that helps you become more at ease when you are doing your checklist at night.
Here’s the thing: the points I listed above are all elements that I can fully control. I still have to come to terms with the fact that there are some things I cannot control, like those Sunday night inbound work emails. But what I can do is pay it forward, as I refuse to send work emails on Sunday. I know how it makes me feel and I don’t want to do that to my team or others. I know people want to knock things off their list and sometimes Sunday night is when it works for them, but I don’t think that is fair to put upon my coworkers just to check it off my to-do list. The email can wait. Or, I can write the email (get it off my plate), but schedule it to send on Monday morning (not affecting their Sunday). Unless the building is on fire, then everyone wins.
And if the building is on fire, I should have at the very least probably sent an email…