If you're reading this, you're probably wondering how the hell you're going to go back to the office after a blissful, relaxing, fun—insert joyful adjective here—long weekend. Whether you went out of town or did a staycation, the Sunday Scaries are very real after three (or more) days of zero work, emails, and meetings. The Scaries sometimes occur after a regular weekend, but when they appear after a long weekend? They can feel 1000 times worse.
"Like everything in life, transitions take time to adjust to, and a transition from a fun-filled weekend with friends to a structured workweek with responsibilities and deadlines can be challenging," says Sarah Romotsky, director of Healthcare at Headspace. It makes sense: You had a carefree couple of days, but now that the end is looming, the anticipation or thought of having to deal with work and "real life" again can cause some stress and anxiety.
This won't stop Monday from coming around, but it might help to know that a lot of people experience these feelings of sadness. In fact, a 2015 study conducted by the job site Monster found that 76% of respondents in the U.S. said they have experienced "really bad Sunday night blues."
So how can you make your Sunday and the days after a long weekend better? We have a 10-step plan for you.
1. Prepare Before the Weekend
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So since you're probably reading this at the tail end of the weekend, and you can't exactly take a time machine back to the beginning, this is good to keep in mind for the next one. Or, maybe you're reading this in anticipation of a couple of days off. Either way, if you start your long weekend on the right foot, it might make coming back to the office a lot easier.
You might feel rushed on your last day at work before a long weekend, or feel tempted to put off dealing with something until you get back, but try your best to finish up projects, respond to emails, and check as much as you can off your to-do list before heading out the door. This might help you feel more relaxed on Sunday night, knowing that both your inbox and to-do list are somewhat manageable.
Check in with yourself and your feelings, during and after the long weekend. "The most important thing is to maintain a healthy emotional balance during the week and weekend so nothing feels too jarring to handle," says Romotsky. "A great way to keep this balance is by practicing meditation, which can help reduce stress and negative emotions, and improve positive emotions and happiness."
3. Do Something Fun on Sunday
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"Plan something fun for Sunday night! This stretches out your fun," says time management expert Laura Vanderkam, author of Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done and Juliet's School of Possibilities. "Go to your favorite exercise class, or go for dinner with friends. That way you spend Sunday afternoon thinking about your upcoming fun, rather than about Monday morning."
4. Practice Mindfulness
This will prevent you from dwelling too much on the weekend ending and the upcoming week. It's a way to collect your thoughts without judgment and be present. "Try incorporating mindfulness into one of your regular Sunday activities," Romotsky recommends. "For example, I like to make a big meal on Sunday for my family and freeze it for the week, and there are a lot of ways to bring in mindfulness to that process by being aware and present. Headspace has great content on mindful cooking and mindful eating that I use to bring mindfulness into my usual routine."
Romotsky also suggests bringing mindfulness into your Monday morning commute so you can start the workweek off right.
5. Get Your Healthy Eating Back on Track
Chances are you indulged a bit over the weekend. There's no judgment here. But, after a weekend of eating junk food and drinking a lot more than usual, a "detox" of sorts might make your body feel better and in turn, could uplift your spirits.
So, pack on the fruits and veggies for your Sunday night dinner and weekday meals. Drink more water. Avoid sugar and alcohol. Enjoy some herbal tea before you go to bed. These can help you feel less bloated and sluggish.
6. Do Something Productive on Sunday
Balance the third step—do something fun—with a productive task that might make the rest of your week easier. That can mean meal prepping so you don't have to worry about cooking during the week. Or do your laundry so you don't run out of underwear on Thursday. It can also be something as simple as planning your outfit for Monday to save you time in the morning. Whatever helps future you will make easing back into real life smoother.
7. Indulge in Some Self-Care
8. Make Some Plans
If you're experiencing sad feelings during the week, do activities that makes you feel good. "Remember to seek out activities that you enjoy that can boost your spirits, whether it is lunch with a friend, a walk in your neighborhood, or a meditation session," suggests Romotsky.
Use Sunday night to make some plans for the upcoming week—that way you have something to look forward to. And if you just came back from a weekend away, start thinking about your next one.
9. Don't Go to Bed Late
Starting another episode on Netflix, or going into an Instagram black hole might not be the best idea the night before your first day back at work. You don't want to wake up groggy, grumpy, or tired. This might mean starting your bedtime routine a bit earlier so you have enough time to settle into bed and relax.
10. Go to Work Early the Next Day
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Okay, we know this might seem impossible (especially if you're reading this on a Sunday night), but hear us out. By showing up early and before your boss or co-workers get there, you might have some quiet time to yourself to look through your emails and assess your workload. It will also give you some time to ease into the day—you can make a coffee in the office kitchen, grab breakfast, or just get settled in your desk.
Now that you have some tips to get you through the Sunday Scaries, hopefully you won't dread Monday as much. A lot of people are in the same boat as you. Don't be too hard on yourself and give yourself some time to acclimate to real life again.