Dear Dave: On Sunday afternoons I start worrying about the upcoming work week, and I can’t stop myself. I can’t say that I love my job, but I am lucky to have it. I talked to my friends about this problem and they say they have it, too. I want to enjoy my weekend and not be bothered about cranking things back up on Monday. Please help me with this pattern. — F
Dear F: I know exactly what you are talking about, and I call this Monday mania the “Sunday Slump.” I don’t think there is one of us who does not have this tendency, but many have created ways of thinking that will take the sting out of beginning another work week.
We need to first assess how we really feel about our job. We may be telling ourselves that we are trying to build a rewarding career, but — deep inside — we believe we are just unimportant parts in a big machine. We may even envy someone we see on the way to work digging ditches, because they don’t need to deal with those difficult customers or frustrating employees every day like we do. However, these ditch diggers may be looking at the men and women driving by in their cars as people “that have it made.” We make it hard to be happy … don’t we?
I also believe there are many who do not believe they need a career, just a job — “just give me the money” people. I think this group is hit quite hard by the Sunday Slump — they see work only as endless tasks and they do not see how their work is going to provide them anything more than a paycheck. Some psychologists call this the “Hamster in a Flywheel Effect.” We merely do the same things over and over and are not getting anywhere.
I think these people prove that money is not a true motivator and that there must be more to peoples’ lives — like praise and a sense of purpose.
Then we have the “Career Builders” who are trying to learn more, do more, grow more, and become experts — or whatever else they want to call themselves. I don’t mean to belittle these folks; I just often think they are in it for themselves and everyone else better get out of their way. Some call these folks “driven to succeed,” but, I sadly see them as only being self-serving.
The Career Builders may get hit hardest by the Sunday Slump, because they ended the last work week — which may have continued through Saturday — on a high note and they were just hitting on all cylinders and doing amazing things. But, on Sunday, they are scared to death that they can never hit that peak again, and they will be looked down upon by their bosses. This need to ramp up again and do amazing things all over again produces anxiety and fearful anticipation.
Sunday Slump survival tactics
First, you should be thankful for the day (Sunday) off and for the opportunity to do things you choose to do. How cool is it that you and/or your friends and family can put together a day of rest and relaxation or challenge yourself to accomplish some difficult physical feat — even just a long walk. Make it a day of enjoyment and accomplishment and you will have little time for Monday anxiety. You can also — and maybe this is the best thing — nurture your faith. This may be more than going to church; it may mean helping those in need.
One thing that helps with work-week anticipation is to plan for it — both physically and mentally — so when 6 a.m. on Monday hits, you are not caught like a deer in the headlights. I am talking about getting things in order, so you can sense some preparedness for the work week. Then, reward yourself Sunday night with something like dinner and a movie. And plan something rewarding to do — like having lunch with a friend on Monday.
Finally, be thankful for what you have. There are so many people unemployed or grossly under-employed. A bit of gratitude goes a long way. If you feel you are in a dead-end job, take on some learning opportunities to prepare yourself for something new. Looking forward to getting together with your peers to learn new skills on Monday night may provide you a satisfying reward. Few things make us feel better than learning things that will help us.
It appears that, no matter what we do for a living, there will always be some fearful anticipation as we look at the upcoming week as an obstacle, rather than an opportunity … to do what we do best and to make positive contributions.