For most us working the Monday to Friday treadmill, it’s that time of the week again. Friday evening came in carefree and full of hope for the weekend ahead. Saturday morning slipped by without a thought for the working week and on Saturday night we kicked back and as though the weekend would last forever. Then Sunday morning came around and, somehow compounded by the winter weather that slow, familiar gloom began to set in. Welcome to the Sunday afternoon blues.
It’s a difficult one to shake, but we can at least understand why we feel this way on Sundays. Our conscious mind is simply protecting us from the things that will cause us discomfort, in other words, the feelings of anxiety we associate with the working environment. From an evolutionary point of view or Sunday blues are useful because we want to avoid situations associated with harm, and, try as we might to live in the moment and actually enjoy Sunday afternoon for a change, our brain is already thinking about the next day. Mindfulness techniques might help take some of the edge off the Sunday blues, as will experience. We know from repeated exposure that we can and will survive Monday morning, it comes around once a week after all, and all we need to do is stick it out. And although we all tend to grumble about even the easiest of jobs, I know from personal experience that doing a job I enjoy does take some of the dread out of Sunday evening. Also, planning a stress-free social event or get together on a Sunday afternoon can make the evening something to look forward to and cherish, rather than something to endure. Similarly, if you can plan in a small treat such as a good lunch or coffee break for Monday, even better. Few of us will leap out of bed on a Monday morning, eager to face the working week ahead, but building in a small reward for our efforts will certainly make it more bearable.
Of course, under certain circumstances the anxiety and stress that some us feel about work can become completely overwhelming and panic inducing, interfering with our sleep patterns, personal relationships and general mental wellbeing. In such circumstances, professional counselling might help to lessen the intensity of these feelings, and their effects on those around us.
Finally, spare a thought for those of us on non-traditional working patterns. It’s estimated that up to one-third of Brits work part or all of the weekend and, although that might be one way to avoid the dread feeling of a Sunday evening, at least the rest of us get a proper weekend to recover from the stresses and strains of the working week.