How to Beat the Sunday Blues

D. WATERS/DIGITAL VISION/GETTY IMAGESBy Ronnie Koenig

Here are 10 tips on how to beat that sinking feeling you get around 5pm Sunday -- also known as the point when you realize the party's over and the work week awaits.

Don't Sleep In
In a study by Mind, a mental health organization in England, more than 26 percent of employees said they felt dread and apprehension the day before they were due to go back to work after the weekend. "Most people don't get into a true depression, but it's a sense of a loss of freedom and the burden of responsibility which leads to moodiness and withdrawal," says David M. Reiss, M.D., a psychiatrist in private practice in Rancho Santa Fe, CA.

So what do most of us do to avoid this giant bummer known as Sunday? We sleep in. And what do we do when we feel bummed during the day? We take a nap.

Sleeping is as synonymous with Sunday as reading the paper and going to brunch, but it shouldn't be. Even though it may feel good in the short term to wake up at noon it will only set you up for Sunday night insomnia -- and Monday morning exhaustion. "Getting extra rest (sleeping a bit later, taking an afternoon nap) can be restorative, but significantly disrupting your sleep-wake cycle can have negative physiological and psychological consequences such as changes in your disposition," says Reiss. "Sleeping too much can contribute to a negative mood as much as sleep deprivation."


Start a Sunday Night Ritual with Friends

It's also normal to start feeling lonely and pensive on Sunday night -- especially if you live by yourself. Best way to combat that is to make a standing date with friends or family -- start a weekly film festival, go bowling or just gather to watch your favorite TV show. The point is to be together.

"Even when everything is fine in your life, it's still a bit of a downer to be sitting around on Sunday just waiting to start the work week," says Reiss. "Having a Sunday night tradition to look forward to can provide some comfort. Camaraderie and entertainment can help you relax and get ready for the week."


Make Plans for Monday

It's easy to get in a funk on Sunday when all you have going on the next day is your commute and a long workday. You can't shirk the responsibilities of the coming week but you can plan something fun for Monday -- meeting friends for lunch or post-work drinks -- that'll be sure to improve your mood.

"Sunday Blues are directly related to expecting that Monday is going to be a drag," says Reiss. "Having something to look forward to can defuse that letdown. There's a reason it's 'Monday Night Football' and not 'Tuesday Night Football.' Coming off the weekend, it's more powerful to have something positive to anticipate on Monday."


Turn Off the Technology

If you spend Sundays answering work emails, Tweeting or posting on Facebook, you may feel like you didn't relax during the weekend. Making Sunday a day to give your iPhone, computer and possibly even the TV a rest can be surprisingly restorative. "Feeling blue on Sunday is often related to feeling overworked," says Reiss, "so it can help to keep it work-free." Even 'fun' technology can be a bit too close to work to allow for full relaxation. Outdoor activities can help to break the doldrums since many of us feel 'stuck inside' at our jobs, says Reiss.


Think of Sunday as a "Snow Day"

Remember the awesome feeling of finding out that school (or work) is cancelled and that you have the day to do as you please? Think of Sunday as your snow day. Throw out the to-do list and do something special! "Our society has turned Sunday into a work day, shopping day or day for other chores," says Reiss. "Work is work, whether self-imposed or imposed externally. Think of your day off as a day off. It's important to make time for necessary chores but it's just as important to schedule time for (guilt-free!) fun and relaxation."


Create Order

If you feel disorganized or have unfinished projects hanging over you, it can make the work week more burdensome, says Reiss. Using Sunday as a time to tame your clutter can make you feel more on top of things and ready for the week. Sort through your closet, toss items from your fridge or pantry and organize the gazillion digital photos you've taken into an album. Turn on some music and you'll actually feel less stressed when you're done! "Spend some time taking care of those projects (without being your own task-master). A feeling of personal accomplishment over the weekend can decrease the resentment of having to go back to work." Just make sure the task is manageable -- you don't want to wind up stressing yourself out with a monumental task that you can't finish.


Indulge Yourself

Taking a little time for beauty rituals like a manicure or pedicure or a blow out can significantly improve your Sunday mood (and make you more excited to face Monday when you feel good about the way you look)! "Within practical reason, take time over the weekend to do things that make you feel good about yourself as a unique, attractive individual," suggests Reiss.


Try Volunteering

Spending Sunday giving back to the community makes it difficult to be in a bad mood Sunday night. Not only will you feel good about making a difference, spending time with those less fortunate will make it harder to wallow in your own despair. "Volunteer work makes us feel good about ourselves and can help put things in perspective (your week probably isn't going to be that bad)," says Reiss. "You'll be helping yourself and others at the same time, which wards off resentment and negativity as well as possibly reducing loneliness and feelings of isolation."


Get Cooking

Preparing an elaborate Sunday night meal -- or all of your meals for the rest of the week - is a good way to awaken all your senses and make you feel more alive. Enjoy the smells, tastes and textures of fresh ingredients. Share your creations with others and they'll feel less blue, too.

"Eating well is the key to feeling good throughout the week," says Reiss. "Planning ahead and even cooking ahead not only provides a sense of accomplishment and something to look forward to during the week, but also reduces the risk of becoming tired and turning to comfort food, which provides temporary comfort, but long-lasting guilt."


Go Inward

We all feel some level of dissatisfaction from time to time, but if you think your Sunday blues may be due to a general feeling of unhappiness it's important to step back and look at the big picture. Ask yourself if you're living the life you want, and what you can do to get there. "Feeling sad on Sundays can reflect a general inner dissatisfaction with your overall lifestyle and mundane routine," says Reiss. "Use this feeling to reconsider goals -- personal, professional, interpersonal."

Just don't do it on a Sunday! "As with any serious contemplation, it's best to approach issues with an unbiased emotional state, so Sundays, when you may already be feeling a bit down or anxious may not be the most effective time for making longer term plans (just like it's not a good idea to go food shopping when you're hungry!)" says Reiss. So make note of this sinking feeling, but promise yourself you'll dig deeper in the middle of the week.

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