What is “sunday depression”?
“Sunday depression,” sometimes referred to as the “Sunday blues," can refer to the feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and dissatisfaction that many experience on Sundays, particularly in the evenings, as the week ahead grows closer and closer. Sunday depression is generally not something you would be diagnosed with if you were to visit a doctor or therapist. Although the condition may not exist in the DSM-5, the phenomenon can be very real. You might improve your Sundays by bringing more balance to your week, doing something fun on Sunday nights, considering a change like a new job, prioritizing self-care, and working with a therapist. It can be easy to connect with a therapist through an online therapy platform, or you could seek out a local mental health professional to see in person.
What does sunday depression feel like?
The following scene may be familiar to many. Sunday morning, you may rise out of bed, ready for another day of freedom from work or school. All may be well throughout the morning, but by afternoon, a sinking feeling of dread may begin to form in the pit of your stomach. Your mind might start racing, and you could feel overwhelmed. You may even feel physically ill. It’s possible you find yourself feeling distraught as you think about the next day or the week ahead. This cycle may repeat every Sunday.
While Sunday depression may be the term that describes this feeling for those who follow a traditional work week (Monday through Friday, with Saturday and Sunday off), those who follow an alternative schedule may not be immune to this experience. The feelings described above can creep up when any break from an ongoing schedule comes to an end.
This can mean that someone who works Sunday to Thursday may experience these feelings on Saturday. A student who attends classes on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday may have these feelings on Monday.
Why do I have the Sunday blues?
Sunday depression can happen for many reasons. Each person's triggers may be unique to them. In most cases, the phenomenon can be tied to underlying thoughts or feelings about the week ahead. Below, you’ll find potential causes of the Sunday blues.
If you don't like your job, it may be very likely you will experience the Sunday blues. It can be hard to find the motivation or desire to show up someplace you don't want to be. While many people report dissatisfaction with work, a severe case of Sunday depression might signal it could be time to look for another job opportunity.
Stretched too thin
It may also be possible that your feelings could be tied to a lack of emotional resources to cope with the obligations you have ahead. Maybe you have overscheduled yourself, taken on a task that is becoming more troublesome than you anticipated, or believe there is no way you can meet your current demands.
Too much piling up
For some people, Sunday can be a reminder that they haven't finished everything on their to-do list from the week before. It can subtly make them believe they are always running behind, they will never catch up, or worse, they are a failure for not being able to do all the things they wanted to do.
Tired of routine
Routine can be a challenge for many people. New adventures tend to stimulate our brains, while the day-to-day can quickly become tiresome. In many homes, Sunday evening can turn into a set routine to prepare for the week ahead. This routine may include potentially mundane activities like meal prep, laundry, organizing and packing things for the upcoming day, or planning on a calendar. It can be easy for this ritual to start going together with the feelings of Sunday depression.
Sometimes, Sunday depression can be exacerbated by polarized thinking. Polarized or dichotomous thinking can be another name for our tendency to see things in terms of polar opposites. You might think of it as "all or nothing" thinking. We often start by thinking of the weekend as a time for fun, and the week as a time for work. We can get too rigid with our beliefs that the week isn't meant to be used for fun, or that there is no time for relaxation until the weekend. With this view, Sunday evening may come to strictly represent the impending arrival of five days of unwanted activity.
Believing time was wasted
Some people who experience Sunday depression report that Sunday evenings make them reflect on the time they wasted throughout the weekend. Rather than getting to their long list of to-dos, they may have sat around and failed to use their time wisely. On the contrary, they may have been so busy they wasted the precious time they had for relaxation. Sunday depression can have a way of making us hyper-focus on all the things we didn't do with the time we had.
Sunday depression often comes with symptoms of anxiety. Anxiety can stem from a number of factors. It may be a reaction to fears about the unknown in the week ahead or a response to a perceived threat.
Tips to improve your sundays
For many of us, the Sunday blues may happen from time to time. However, there may be little improvements you can make to your week or weekend to soften its effects. Please keep in mind that if you are experiencing severe Sunday depression, it can be best to speak with your doctor or a licensed therapist to find solutions that are right for you.
Bring balance to your week
Instead of trying to pile all your work into your week and all your fun into your weekend, try to rearrange your schedule a bit. You might find time during the week to go out with friends, take a trip to the movies, or partake in any other fun activity you enjoy. Dedicate time for fun on your calendar just as you would work-related obligations. Honor that time and try not to let other duties come first if they suddenly pop up mid-week.
Change how you prep for the week
It may be helpful to avoid doing all your weekly "chores" on Sunday evening. Rather, you might break them up over the course of the week. This can help you break the slump of routine. For example, if you usually spend Sunday evening doing meal prep and laundry, consider moving these activities to another time during the week when you are usually free. You might have to sacrifice a little evening time during the week to get these things done, but you will likely extend your free time on Sundays.
Make use of your morning
Many people use Sunday evenings to get ready for the week ahead. This can inevitably contribute to Sunday depression as the hours dwindle down, and we may be faced with a mountain of tasks to do. Consider prepping for the week first thing in the morning. Try to have all your tasks done in the first few hours of the day to free up your evening for relaxation.
Do something fun on sunday night
You might choose to do something you enjoy with the remaining hours of the weekend. If possible, stick to an activity you can look forward to week after week. This could be an art class, movie night, or long meditation session. The choice is yours.
Make a change
Set yourself up for success
Sunday can be a great day to stock up on the resources you need to make it through the week. For many people, this can take the form of self-care. Instead of diving into more obligations on the weekend or completely checking out, you might dedicate Sunday to prioritizing yourself.
Self-care can look different for everybody, but try to stick with activities that help you feel recharged and ready to tackle the week.
While your emotional and mental needs can be important, it can be best not to neglect your physical health, either. You can use Sunday to practice healthy eating and exercise habits, renew prescriptions, and get a good night’s sleep. Starting your week prepared and healthy can give you the extra boost you may need to power through.
Work with a therapist
If you’ve noticed that your experience of the Sunday blues is negatively impacting your life or mental health, or if symptoms of depression have begun to arise throughout the week as well, you may benefit from working with a therapist.
Benefits of online therapy
We mentioned that self-care can be a way to alleviate symptoms of the Sunday blues, and part of your weekly self-care ritual may be talking to a therapist. Online therapy can make it simple to fit sessions into your existing schedule, and because you may attend therapy from the convenience of your home, you may not need to spend extra time commuting or sitting in a waiting room. An online therapist can help you pinpoint the reasons you may be experiencing Sunday depression and guide you toward effective strategies to fully enjoy each day.
Effectiveness of online therapy
Although experiencing Sunday depression may not be the same thing as living with a diagnosable depressive disorder, online therapy may prove to be effective as a form of treatment. A 2023 study investigated the efficacy of virtual care for depressive disorders and found that it was generally as effective as in-person treatment.
For reviews of BetterHelp counselors from those experiencing similar challenges, read below.
“Dianne has helped me deal with my depression, trauma and anxiety in a natural way. She really listens and helps you see the other side you might not consider. She’s helped me bring back aspects of my confidence and make me realize the choices I have made are down to me nonetheless. The therapy sessions have really given me strength that I’ve needed to cope and become better as a person.”
“I’ve spent many years in frustration and sadness, not equipped with the tools to manage those emotions and situations. That all slowly faded away in my 3 months together with Courtney. She is patient, she speaks so kindly, she is always emotionally available and helpful whenever.”
What do Sunday blues mean?
Sunday blues refer to the emotional state of individuals on Sunday evenings, characterized by a sense of unease, sadness, or depression as the weekend draws to a close and the prospect of the coming week looms ahead.
Anticipatory anxiety is the key component of Sunday blues, where individuals experience worry and apprehension about the responsibilities, tasks, or challenges they will encounter over the next week. This anxiety can manifest as restlessness, tension, or nervousness, and it's primarily triggered by the transition from a period of leisure and relaxation over the weekend to the resumption of work, school, or other obligations.
It's crucial to differentiate Sunday blues from clinical depression. Sunday blues are situational and temporary, typically resolving as the week progresses and individuals become more engaged in their weekday routines. Clinical depression, conversely, is a chronic mental health condition marked by persistent and pervasive symptoms that significantly impact one's overall well-being and functioning.
The causes of Sunday blues can vary widely among individuals. They may stem from work-related stress, looming deadlines, the pressure to meet responsibilities, or the feeling of having limited time to enjoy personal pursuits over the weekend. Distinct from clinical depression, Sunday night blues is often a situation-specific experience that, for many people, is manageable with effective coping strategies and tends to diminish as the week progresses. However, seeking professional guidance is advisable if these feelings persist or intensify to a degree that interferes with daily life.
How do you escape the Sunday Blues?
Escaping the Sunday Blues involves adopting strategies to help alleviate anxiety and promote a smoother transition from the weekend to Monday morning.
Here are some effective ways to do so:
- Proper stress management: Adequate stress management throughout the week can significantly reduce the Sunday Blues. Relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga can help you stay calm and centered. Additionally, organizing and planning tasks for the week ahead can provide a sense of control and reduce anxiety. A stress management coach can offer personalized guidance and strategies for managing stress effectively.
- Getting enough rest: Quality sleep is essential for overall well-being and can help improve your mood and energy levels, making facing the coming week with a new perspective easier.
- Spending time outdoors: Enjoying the benefits of fresh air and spending time in nature can be rejuvenating and improve your mood. Recent studies indicate "green exercise," or physical activity undertaken outdoors, can have positive effects on mental health.
- Limiting alcohol consumption: Excessive alcohol intake can contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression. Limiting alcohol consumption, especially on Sunday evenings, can help prevent the exacerbation of the Sunday Blues.
- Relaxing activities: Activities that you find enjoyable and relaxing, such as reading a good book, listening to music, or watching a movie, can divert your focus from negative thoughts and help you unwind. A fancy dinner, a visit to the spa, or any other activity that makes you happy can be an excellent way to cap off your weekend and promote positive emotions.
- Socialization: Interacting with your friends and family can be a great way to alleviate the Sunday blues. Social support is crucial for mental well-being, and spending quality time with loved ones can boost your mood and make you feel more connected.
- Positive self-talk: You can challenge negative thought patterns by practicing positive self-talk. Instead of dwelling on worries and "what-ifs," remind yourself of your strengths, achievements, and the tasks you have successfully managed in the past. If you like to write or journal, jotting down your thoughts and feelings can also be therapeutic.
- Seeking professional help: While the Sunday blues are typically temporary and situational, for some individuals, these feelings may persist or intensify to a degree that interferes with daily life. Seeking support from a mental health professional can provide you with the necessary tools and resources to manage these feelings effectively.
Why do I feel anxious on Sundays?
Sundays can increase anxiety for individuals for a variety of reasons. These reasons may include:
- Work-related stress: Sunday often means the weekend is coming to an end, and people must go back to work or school the next day. The thought of facing a stressful workload, challenging tasks, or deadlines can trigger anxiety.
- Anticipation of upcoming responsibilities: As the week begins, individuals may feel overwhelmed by the prospect of fulfilling their responsibilities and meeting deadlines.
- Limited time for leisure: Some individuals may find that their weekends are packed with errands, chores, and other obligations, leaving little to no time for relaxation or enjoyment. A lack of balance between work and personal life can leave people feeling unfulfilled and anxious.
- Financial concerns: For some, Sundays may trigger financial worries as people anticipate the expenses associated with the upcoming week, such as groceries, bills, or other financial obligations.
- Loneliness: For some people, Sundays can be a reminder of unmet social needs, leading to feelings of loneliness and isolation.
While Sundays typically evoke some level of anxiety, for many people, these feelings are manageable and tend to diminish as the week progresses. However, when these feelings persist or interfere with daily life, it may be a sign of an underlying mental health condition, such as an anxiety disorder or depression.
Why do Sundays feel different?
Unlike Friday afternoon or even Saturday morning, Sundays are often associated with the end of the weekend, which can be bittersweet. Individuals may feel a sense of sadness or anxiety as they anticipate the week ahead and return to their regular routine. Moreover, Sundays are typically less structured than weekdays, allowing for more free time and unstructured activities. This contrast in structure could make Sundays feel different from other days of the week.
While it doesn't matter which day of the week your Sunday falls on, the anticipation of returning to work or school can bring about similar feelings. Additionally, societal and cultural expectations may play a role in how individuals view Sundays. For instance, many people perceive Sundays as a "day of rest" where they should be physically and mentally recharging. When that doesn't happen, it can contribute to feelings of guilt and disappointment.
Why do I feel like crying on Sundays?
For some individuals, Sundays may trigger feelings of sadness or crying spells. These feelings can be due to a combination of factors, such as the end of the weekend, anticipation of responsibilities and stressors in the upcoming week, lack of leisure time, or loneliness. Additionally, these feelings may stem from unaddressed emotional issues or underlying mental health conditions.
Even if you find yourself feeling emotional on Sundays, it can help to remember that these feelings are temporary and situational. Recognizing the root causes of these emotions can help you develop strategies to manage them effectively.
Are Monday Blues a real thing?
While the phrase "Monday blues" is commonly used, there is no specific medical or scientific term for this phenomenon. It is often used to describe the low mood and lack of motivation that people may experience on Mondays. However, these feelings can be attributed to various factors, such as the end of the weekend, work-related stressors, or underlying mental health conditions.
Moreover, how individuals experience Mondays can vary depending on their work schedule. For instance, a person who works on weekends may not feel the same level of "Monday blues" as someone who has a traditional Monday to Friday work week.
How do I feel less sad on Sundays?
Feeling less sad on Sundays might involve trying out some strategies to improve your mood and manage any anxious or negative thoughts. Some helpful tips include:
- Planning ahead: If you experience anxiety about the week ahead, planning can help alleviate some of those feelings. Setting realistic goals and priorities for the week, creating a schedule, and making a to-do list can help you feel more organized and in control.
- Getting professional guidance: Working with a certified life coach or therapist who specializes in managing emotions and stressors can provide you with the tools and resources to cope with your Sunday blues effectively.
- Practicing gratitude: When we focus too much on the negatives, it can be easy to overlook the positives. Practicing gratitude by acknowledging and appreciating the good things in your life can help shift your perspective and improve your mood.
Not everyone experiences Sunday blues in the same way, and what works for one person may not work for another. Remember, it's okay to feel anxious or sad at times, but seeking support from a mental health professional can provide you with the resources and tools to manage these feelings effectively.
What causes the Sunday scaries?
The term "Sunday scaries" is often used to describe the anxious or overwhelmed feeling that some people experience on Sundays. There are various reasons why individuals may feel this way, including:
- Uncertainty about the future: As Sunday marks the end of the weekend and the beginning of a new week, it can trigger feelings of uncertainty and unease about what lies ahead.
- Lack of fulfillment: For some individuals, Sunday might be a time to reflect on their lives and question if they are satisfied with their current circumstances. This self-reflection can lead to feelings of disappointment or discouragement.
- Unresolved conflicts: If there are unresolved conflicts or stressors in your personal or professional relationships, Sundays may bring them to the surface, causing feelings of anxiety or sadness.
When anxiety and stress become overwhelming, it can lead to increased levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that can have negative effects on mental and physical health. Preventative measures, such as taking breaks throughout the day and practicing relaxation techniques, can help alleviate these feelings of anxiety before they escalate.
What is the dread of work on Sunday night?
For those who work a traditional Monday-to-Friday schedule, Sunday night might bring about feelings of apprehension or dread. These feelings could be due to various reasons, including the following:
- Feeling burnt out: If you've had a busy or stressful week, the thought of going back to work on Monday can feel overwhelming and exhausting. Burnout syndrome is a common occupational hazard and can lead to feelings of dread and disengagement from work.
- Unfulfilling job: If you are unhappy or unfulfilled in your current job, it could contribute to feelings of dread about returning to work on Monday. This dissatisfaction can also have a negative impact on overall mental health.
- Lack of work-life balance: Working long hours or feeling overwhelmed by work responsibilities can make it challenging to prioritize self-care and leisure time. Without proper rest and relaxation, individuals may feel drained on Sundays instead of recharged.
- Toxic work environment: If you're experiencing a toxic work environment, it can trigger feelings of anxiety and stress that carry over into the weekend. These feelings can make Sunday nights particularly difficult as you anticipate returning to a negative workplace.
If you find yourself dreading work on Sunday nights, it's essential to recognize the root causes of these emotions and address them accordingly. Whether it means setting boundaries at work or exploring other job opportunities, prioritizing your well-being is crucial in managing these feelings effectively.
How do you beat Sunday dread?
As mentioned above, finding the root cause of your Sunday dread is the first step in managing these feelings. Once you identify the source, you can take steps to address it.
Here are some strategies that may help:
- Setting boundaries: If you find yourself working long hours or feeling overwhelmed by work responsibilities, it may be time to set boundaries. By communicating your needs and limitations to your employer, you can create a healthier work-life balance.
- Pursuing hobbies or interests: Engaging in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment outside of work can help alleviate the Sunday dread. When you take time to relax and recharge, you may be better equipped to handle the stresses of work.
- Reflecting on your career goals: If you feel unfulfilled in your current job, it may be helpful to reflect on your long-term career goals and determine if your current path aligns with them. If not, exploring other options or setting achievable goals can help you feel more optimistic about the future.
As you explore your own methods of coping with Sunday dread, remember to be patient and compassionate with yourself. These feelings are often normal, and it may take time to find strategies that work for you. Supportive therapeutic interventions such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can also provide you with the tools and resources to manage these emotions more effectively.
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