Managing Work-Related Anxiety and Sunday Dread
The Sunday Dread, the Sunday Scaries – different names for a phenomenon most of us will have experienced
Counsellor Miriam Christie offers an anxiety-calming exercise to help you manage anxious work-related feelings
We have therapists who specialise in working with anxiety, burnout and stress – find yours here
Monday morning blues are real. Research by Mind suggests 66% of us feel anxious at the thought of the working week ahead. The changes that Covid-19 has brought to our working world – no commute, working from home, furlough etc – haven't altered the sickening feeling that many of us feel creeping over us from Sunday evening.
Psychologists propose a number of reasons for this:
- Our brains are trained into a mode of weekend rest and week ahead anticipation
- Covid-19 adds an extra layer of mourning for our old structure
- Lack of the old structure brings new anxieties about what Monday may hold
If you're one of those people for whom the prospect of Monday has long held a sense of creeping anxiety, however, here is a different take on it and an exercise to try out.
Instead of stuffing down the anxiety with distraction, sit with it (it's not easy to look the devil in the eye, I know!)
Think of the feeling as friend not foe. You wouldn't ignore a friend's suffering and hope that it would just go away, would you?
Ask her/him what is wrong – several times! Like peeling back an onion, you'll have a top layer that you usually tell yourself (it's boring, I'm tired, I'm just not a Monday person, I just don't know!)
Then ask what's underneath that and you might find a closer truth. Maybe you worry you can't cope with the meetings ahead, a certain person, a stack of work. What's the bigger fear sitting underneath that? I'm not good enough. They will find out I'm an imposter. My work doesn't fulfil me.
These might feel like bigger, scarier issues, which is why your brain cleverly keeps them away from you. But your body is equally as clever and will raise the issue every week with anxiety until you take steps to be freer and happier long-term.
This awareness is a gift. It means you can start to work on healing the deeper issues at work.
Finally, but equally as important after all of that, ask yourself what you need today to care for this anxious part of you. What will make today easier? A walk before work, a ridiculously specific and long-winded coffee order from a local cafe, arranging a call with a friend after work?
You've been resisting this feeling every week for years so be kind to yourself if there are no epiphanies on your first time asking. The habit of ignoring your needs is well-worn and befriending your anxiety is a new habit that will also need time to form.
Miriam Christie is a verified welldoing.org counsellor working online and in South East London