A Simple Way to Beat the Sunday Scaries

The phenomenon also known as “the Sunday Night Blues” can be daunting—but there there are ways you can fight back.
There are some powerful tools in your arsenal that will help keep the Sunday Scaries at bay.
There are some powerful tools in your arsenal that will help keep the Sunday Scaries at bay. / studiostockart/DigitalVision Vectors/Getty Images

Every weekend, it happens: The clock hits 3 p.m. on Sunday and the world gives a collective groan, both mourning the end of a weekend and dreading the workweek ahead. The so-called “Sunday Night Blues”—a.k.a. the “Sunday Scaries”—aren’t just pervasive, they’re powerful: A 2023 survey from LinkedIn of 2000 U.S. workers found that around 75 percent of American workers get the Sunday Scaries (some even report experiencing them on more days than just Sunday). Thankfully, it is possible to shake the funk.

“Start by reminding yourself how much time you have left,” Laura Vanderkam, author of I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time, told Mental Floss in 2015. She studied 1001 days of hour-by-hour time logs from women earning at least $100,000 a year and analyzed how they spend the 168 hours that make up each week. One finding: They don’t go limp on Sundays.

“When 3 p.m. rolls around, you still have 15 hours before you need to wake up Monday morning and face the workweek, and seven hours left before bedtime,” Vanderkam said. “So, why not decide to seize that time?”

Scheduling or planning something ahead of time radically increases your odds of following through with an activity (and not losing those hours to a stupor of TV and nap time). Vanderkam started hosting low-key get-togethers on Sunday afternoons, and found that most of her friends were available and also relished the distraction from their Monday dread. But if you’re not feeling social, make it a manicure or a long run—anything you enjoy that restores you.

What if you typically default to laundry and grocery shopping on Sundays? Well, you’re probably dreading Sunday afternoons even more. Vanderkam suggested trying to spread your chores into the workweek rather than banking on a Sunday marathon of scrubbing and sorting. A grocery run on Tuesday night, when the store is empty, will take less time and free up part of your precious weekend. And that’s something to smile about.

It’s also a good practice to avoid checking your work email on your days off: Interviews done as part of a 2023 study by the UK’s University of Exeter and Channel 4 revealed that one major trigger of the Sunday Scaries was getting work-related emails over the weekend. “Our research has shown that the blurring of boundaries between home and work can make the experience of Sunday Night Blues worse,” Ilke Inceoglu, professor of organizational behavior and HR management at the University of Exeter Business School, said in a press release. “The erosion of boundaries is an issue we have all experienced since lockdown and is something that impacts our wellbeing.”

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A version of this story ran in 2015; it has been updated for 2024.