How to Deal with the Sunday Scaries

No matter how it happens, the Sunday Scaries always find a way to creep up on me. I know that the week ahead isn’t going to be especially hard, and I’ve got a stable job. And yet, something just feels off. Sure, there will be meetings and deadlines, but that’s not surprising. So why is it getting to me this week?

The Sunday Scaries bring a kind of generalized dread and anxiety. If you know, you know, but it’s something I’ve dealt with for years. The triggers are many—have I not checked in with family enough? Did I schedule enough time to see and connect with friends? The symptoms come in lots of ways, too. Sometimes it feels like imposter syndrome or that the floor might fall out from under me at any second. So often, I escape into the phone and start doomscrolling through social media.

As I set the phone down, I’m feeling more than just anxiety. Listlessness, dread… and the urge to indulge in unhealthy habits. Even so, tucked away in the back of my head, a little voice is saying, “It’s not so bad. Take a breath and we’ll get through this.” So now, on Sunday evening, there’s nothing left to do but remember my top 4 ways to deal with the Sunday Scaries.

#1 – Being Personally Accountable

For me, the Sunday Scaries thrive when I put things off. I trick myself into not looking at what I’ve done and what I didn’t do, and that keeps me from taking responsibility for my choices. Worse, it feeds into the tendency to avoid, procrastinate, and distract myself. All of that just makes the anxiety worse, so the first thing I do is take a good look at what happened and what needs to happen.

That’s where personal accountability starts, with an honest look at where I am. Did I need to complete some work this weekend but didn’t? Let’s write down my tasks and see how much I can get done now and when I’ll do the rest. Did I spend too much money at the bar on Saturday? Let’s open up that banking app and see where I am and what happened to my budget.

Next, take ownership. Whether I caused one of my own problems or it just happened to me, it’s mine to deal with. Wherever I’m at, there I am. So, after seeing what the situation is and taking ownership, it’s time to gather intent. I envision what I want things to be like and commit to getting there. Finally, I make a plan and put it into action.

For more info on developing accountability:

#2 – Being Proactive to Scare Off The Sunday Scaries

I know how easy it is to lay in bed a bit too long with my smartphone. All it takes is a “quick glance” at a video on YouTube, and then I’m in the “Recommended” rabbit hole for the entire day. For some, it’s TikTok, Insta, Reddit, etc.; pick your poison. No matter which one scratches your itch, it’ll trap you in there and waste most, if not your whole day.

Before you know it, that wasted time compounds the dread and the anxiety, making those negative feelings worse than they need to be. So what’s the solution? Be proactive! Get out of bed! Do some pushups and throw water on your face! The old adage that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step means even more if you do it on a Sunday.

That plan I made during the personal accountability phase? It’s time to put it into action. I always start with something small and visible. Dishes are a perfect example. I can do those quickly and then I have something to show for it. I hand wash and air dry the dishes specifically so I can see it throughout the day as a “See? I did something!” right in my face. I’m always surprised at how good it feels to see even small evidence of my efforts.

Tips to master motivation and become more proactive:

#3 – Mental Stability and Mindfulness

Something I’ve found about the Sunday Scaries is that it’s not always easy to pin down why I feel the way I do. Sure, I can always point to drinking too much the night before, putting off work or being too afraid to look at the work ahead, or letting the house get messy. Ultimately, though, the feeling is one of dread that I can’t place. Like I’m wasting time that I don’t have.

It’s true we only live once, but I can’t use that to justify doing things I’ll regret (by YOLOing my way into a hookup that seemed like a good idea at the time) and avoiding things that I should do (such as getting ahead on work and studies). So, I need to reframe the idea, putting it more in terms of a bigger picture—like, a REALLY big picture.

Meditation helps me to re-center and balance myself. I’m not hardcore into it, nor am I any sort of yogi, but taking a few moments to breathe in and out is a huge help. I also try to picture what I’m doing now in the context of my whole life. Really, being mindful helps me stay calm and listen to the anxiety a little bit. My anxiety sometimes just wants to be heard in a healthy way and then it gets better.

Helpful info to develop more mindfulness:

#4 – Preventive Measures

Okay, I’ll be honest: the best way to deal with the Sunday Scaries happens long before Sunday. As I’ve gotten a few more years, I’ve found that living my life with a bit more intention has taken care of most of the problems. I’m not immune to it by any means, but the difference from before is night and day.

If you always have the Sunday Scaries, then it might be a sign that there’s something underlying. For me, it was decades of undiagnosed ADHD driving me to procrastinate and self-sabotage. So many times, I’d be facing a new week with nothing to show for the previous one. To solve that, I spoke to a professional, wound up getting diagnosed, and now have adjusted my life in a positive direction.

For me, that was the biggest piece of the puzzle. Everyone is different, so what worked for me might not work for you. Nevertheless, you owe it to yourself to take the time, talk to someone, and figure out what you’ve got going on under the hood.

More information about the Sunday Scaries:


  • Christopher Gallagher

    Christopher Gallagher is a business manager and freelance writer with a BA degree in history. Christopher has traveled extensively and has lived across the American east, south, and west. Christopher is an expert culinarian and enjoys camping. His writing includes history, banking and insurance, and retirement planning, among other topics.

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