Sunday night anxiety

Sunday Night Anxiety

It’s Sunday evening

 

Which means it is Monday tomorrow.

Again.

 

Depending on your time zone, the sinking feeling might or might not have already started. And it is most likely to strike at precisely 4.13pm.

How do you know!? Might you ask. Well – there is an awful lot of research out there. A simple Google search for ‘Sunday Night’ straight away offers key words like ‘anxiety’ or ‘depression’… Any of these searches gives you a whopping 15 million hits! The sinking feeling was nicknamed Sunday night fever in a fabulous article by Huffington Post.

All these articles will tell you that Monday means getting ready for battle. It isn’t suprising to see #MondayMotivation trending every Monday on Twitter!

Sunday night is all about feeling that we haven’t been productive enough over the weekend (damn, I had promised to call Emma this weekend!), anticipating issues and planning strategies to manage difficult stakeholders or team situations.

Why?

Because the human brain is programmed for survival.

That’s when I feel like saying ‘duh!’.

 Of course we are wired to survive

 

In fact anyone who has worked in professional services, or any other competitive industry, tends to know a thing or two about survival – right?

 

But how can we – highly evolved corporate beings and masters of the financial universe – be at the mercy of a minuscule reptilian part of the brain which doesn’t even help with drafting or investment strategy?

Could there be a workaround, to help us get rid of that stupid irrational feeling – once and for all?

 

We all know about good stress, bad stress, productive stress or my-brain-is-about-to-explode stress.

And there is an awful lot of advice out there on how to deal with it.

Advice like: wrap yourself in hot, lavender-scented cucumber slices whilst listening to meditation podcasts (with or without chirping bird sounds).

 

The reality is that most of us deal with it fine, and overall it wouldn’t be quite as intense and challenging a career without the stress …

It just doesn’t feel that way on Sunday evenings.

 

There is a huge amount of proper advice on out there, and it probably works for the many saints out there who manage to cut down on caffeine and practice meditation daily.

Sadly, I am not one of them. But I have had to come up with my own pragmatic list over the years –

 

Take an hour every Sunday morning to check your diary, delete or archive a few emails

Don’t actually do any work – but get a sense of what is happening next week!

 

STEP ONE

 

Work out the timings – At what time will you need to get up or leave the house each day? When could you work from home, or take a call from client site? Are there any clashes or days when you might need to commute from one place to another? If so could you optimise the time on the train/taxi to prepare for another meeting?

When will you come home late? When could you fit a spinning or gym session? Are there any additional social things you need to think about e.g. someone’s leaving drinks?

This will familiarise you with the rhythm for the week ahead, and help you decide what to wear!

 

STEP TWO

Get the negative stuff out of the way –

Get your head around potentially stressful presentations or conversations, meetings you need to prepare for etc.

Do this with a nice cup of coffee and croissant – either at home if there is a quiet spot where you enjoy spending time.. or at your local Starbucks if you need to avoid a talkative partner or noisy children!

It doesn’t even have to be an hour, but make it long enough that you have dispelled the notion that the week is about to start.

Because – it turns out – our brain is more worried about the idea of a new week starting than the week itself. It is all bafflingly irrational. So eliminate the fear by effectively starting the week early!

 

 STEP THREE

Remember that it is about outcomes not activities – Before you shut the laptop/Ipad – take 5 minutes to ask yourself the following question

 

What does success look like for the week ahead?

If I were to sit here again next Sunday – what would I like to say about the week just gone?

What outcomes or results would I like to have achieved?

Quite a simple one – but setting your intention on the big things will help you not sweat the small stuff.. It tends to help make the things you want happen, somehow.

 

So now you can go back and enjoy the rest of your weekend.

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