Do you secretly dread Sundays?
Day of the dread
Throughout my childhood, I was a… well, I was a lunatic about football. Loved it. Sundays couldn’t come quickly enough. Those of you who have become swept up in prestige television on Sunday nights can probably relate. You wait and wait, and then, finally… bliss. But it’s short-lived. Soon comes the inner storm cloud, reminding you of looming work or school. Then comes the guilt; wasn’t this the Sunday that you were going to write your grandma a handwritten letter and finally clean the closets?
Sundays have always had their own special sort of gloom. Unfortunately, they’ve gotten a lot worse, at least for some. Noon on Sundays is the “unhappiest hour in America.” In the age of 24/7 connectivity, Sundays are now a chance to get a jumpstart on the week, or to catch up with what you didn’t get to on Friday because you were tired from your morning SoulCycle.
If you feel Sundays have become anything but fun days, there are a few ways you can restore their luster.
Make peace with your perfect Sunday
You can’t have it both ways: if you’re going to play Fallout 4 all weekend, you’re not going to feel like you caught up on work and sleep and exercise and correspondence. Make peace with your expectations, especially if you’re trying to take a break from personal and professional task lists.
“What should I be doing with myself on the weekend?” is such a haunting and perplexing question that someone wrote an entire book about it. Her name is Laura Vanderkam, and her book is What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend.
The answer? They work hard, but usually not on “work” stuff.
“You need to hit Monday ready to go,” she told Forbes. “To do that, you need weekends that rejuvenate you, rather than exhaust or disappoint you. Cross-training makes you a better athlete, and likewise, exercise, volunteer work, spiritual activities, and hands-on parenting make you a better worker than if you just worked all the time.”
Get formal about frivolity
2:00 – take a nap.
People tend to be happier at home than at the office. I’m not making it up; the world’s least-ambitious researchers proved it in a study! But many of those same people also freak out when they’re feeling like they’re “doing nothing.” But some of these “do nothing” activities on Sunday can make you a better collaborator on Monday. Putting them on the calendar (even if just mentally) can help alleviate the guilt you feel about taking a timeout for me-time—and can also help ensure you devote your time to your preferred sort of me-time, rather than just get sucked into Facebook or an episode of Baggage.
“If left to their own devices and genetic programming,” says renowned researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, most people will “worry about things or watch television.”
So even while scheduling may seem antithetical to weekend relaxation, it can actually help you in unplugging and decompressing.
Give yourself a treat on Monday
You’ll be less sad about Sunday if you’re looking forward to Monday. As Happiness Project author Gretchen Rubin notes, a little incentive can go a long way. Consider a standing event, like a social gathering or a running date with a friend. Or, you know, be one of those people who just loves coming to work every day. Or convince HBO and David Benioff to move Game of Thrones to Monday nights. You have options here.
Work on Sunday to lighten your load other days
Sundays can be a fabulous day to buckle down, free of the distractions that may trip you up during your regular Monday-Friday. If you spend a little time chasing down loose ends, or clearing out your email inbox or voicemail, you may feel an extra spring in your step on Monday morning. A rigid 9-to-5 is increasingly meaningless for many companies. Not every company has gotten the memo that this doesn’t just mean that employees are going to work more hours outside of the 9-to-5 zone. If Sunday mornings are when you’re at the most zenned-out Don Draper version of yourself, run with it… but then if Friday afternoons are when you always feel stuck in the mud, run out of it. The office, that is.
Have you made your peace with your weekend routine? Please share the secrets of your success in the comments below.