How to deal with Sunday night anxiety
By Annie Flamsteed – iNSPIRE Founder & CEO
Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out.
Do your Sunday nights feel a bit like this? Regardless of how relaxing your weekend was, do you struggle at times to feel calm, focussed and ready for the week? For me, racing thoughts, nausea and restless nights usually consume my Sunday evenings, and research shows that this is extremely common. I like to refer to this as “Sunday Night Anxiety” when someone asks the dreaded question of ‘what’s wrong Annie?’. For me these feelings of overwhelm are not always caused by a big meeting first up Monday morning, or a week full of tasks I don’t want to do. A lot of the time it’s just generalised feelings of overwhelm and sometimes, that makes it even harder to manage as I struggle with the confusion of ‘I shouldn’t be stressed right now’.
If you’re like me, and Sunday evenings are a bit of a battle for you, it is okay. Nearly 25% of people stated in a survey done in the UK that Sunday nights were their MOST anxious or stressful evening- regardless of how relaxed they were over the weekend, and regardless of how relaxing their week ahead of them was meant to be. The thing is, we all see Mondays as the ‘start’ of our week, so instantly there is pressure attached to it. Memes about getting through ‘hump day’ or longing for ‘Fri-yay drinks’ don’t help and the fear of having to wait 5 whole days for another day off sometimes is all it takes for our little minds to become consumed by anxiety.
As athletes, Sundays can be the start of a new training block, or the beginning of what you know is going to be a busy and hectic week with uni, school, work, training or even competition. Whilst Sunday night anxiety is almost impossible to avoid unless you live on an island with zero responsibilities…. I decided I was sick of feeling this way, and that I wanted to create five simple steps to overcome it. I want to share these with you today, and I would LOVE it if you would share your version of these with me via Instagram and let me know how you go tackling that ‘Sunday Night Anxiety’.
1. Don’t stress about it.
What do I mean by this? What I mean is, you will feel Sunday Night Anxiety at some stage in your life, and the worst thing you can do hands down… is stress about how you’re feeling and become stressed about being stressed. It’s a double edged sword that you can absolutely avoid, if you learn to embrace the feelings of Sunday night Anxiety and decide to deal with them, as opposed to sitting there stressing about it and becoming even MORE stressed for no reason. It is okay to feel Sunday Night Anxiety, but it is not okay to either ignore it, or become more stressed about it. Accept that you feel that way and make some moves to improve how you feel.
2. Plan your week (roughly).
Get a good old fashioned piece of paper out, and literally write the day at the top of the page (one page for each day, i.e. Monday), and write out what your day plan looks like. It is important not to add EVERY single task here (Avoid things like ‘email Nancy’, or ‘buy dog food’) and instead just write the high level day plan so you can see how much time you have for the tasks you need to get done. This is a great time to block out periods of time for things like study, groceries, recovery sessions or relaxation. By doing this you’re able to eyeball the entire week, and see how much spare time you actually have it also helps with your daily task scheduling and can act as a basis for your entire week, for example;
- Study (3 hours)
- Work (12-4pm)
- Walk dog
- Dinner with Sahra
3. Do some Yoga
Even if you’re not a Yogi, 15-20 minutes of meditation, Yoga or even just deep breathing can really help to calm your mind on a Sunday evening. Instead of going for a super hard gym session or a massively long run that’s going to put your body under stress and make you more tired, opt for a long walk or some Yoga. Yoga apps are a great way to get your yoga on without spending a fortune on a yoga class or membership. We love ASANA Rebel here at iNSPIRE… their 5 minute practice are my favourite!
4. Organise yourself
No matter how many times your parents nagged you in school, and no matter how annoying it was to you…. There is a lot of merit in organising yourself on a Sunday so you can start your week off fresh. If you know you have a busy week, do some meal prep for your lunches so you know you have healthy meals ready to go and can avoid buying unhealthy food during the week. Make sure your clothes are clean and put away so that your mornings are less rushed, and you can simply find something nice (and clean) to wear without having to race around the house last minute. Plan out your week as I said above, and make sure you make time for relaxation, social activities or something fun so you have something to look forward to. Most importantly, organise your mind. By roughly planning out your week, doing some meal prep, cleaning your room and having your clothes clean and put away in your cupboard, you’re able to organise your mind for the week ahead. Starting the week off cluttered with no clean clothes and no fresh food in the house can be really anxiety provoking for even the most relaxed athlete.
5. Reflect on your wellness and anxiety levels.
Daily reflections are super important, but especially on Sunday nights, check in on your anxiety and how you’re feeling physically. You can do this by writing a daily reflection diary, or by using tracking apps like iNSPIRE. I know I always harp on about how good our app is for staying on track with your mental and physical health and wellness… but it really helps, and if there is any day of the week that I consistently use the iNSPIRE App, it’s Sunday nights. I use the app every day to track how I am feeling, even on the days that I don’t train and it really helps me to calm my anxiety on a Sunday night if I can look back at a week’s worth of wellness tracking, and compare it to how I feel in that present moment. If you have the app already, go and give it a go, and if you don’t you can download it from the google play or apple app store. Don’t forget to subscribe and enrol in one of our Sports Psychology Programs as there are heaps of tips on managing stress and anxiety within those programs if you’re after longer term solutions.
Until my next blog, try not to stress about feeling stressed. Try the 5 tips above, enrol in one of our amazing programs and don’t forget to tag us on social media to keep us in the loop of how you’re going.