Halloween has always been a favorite holiday of mine. There’s something really exciting about getting dressed up and pretending to be something else. (Perhaps one of the reasons little me liked to get on stage and wanted so desperately to be an actress when I grew up).
I may not be a princess in real life (or play one on stage), but you can bet your bag of kit-kats that every Halloween I always had the biggest, poofiest pink dress you’ve ever seen. (Except that time my mom made me a crayon before I could have a say in it all).
The holiday gives us permission to let go of the expectation of the every day. To let go of who we think we need to be, and lets us be whatever we want for one special day.
But, in thinking about how much I loved that “one special day each year” as a kid, it made me think about the masks we wear every other day of the year.
How many of us live life behind a mask – a mask of self-assuredness, confidence, authority, perfection, efficiency etc, while all the while hiding who we truly are? The problem with masks is when they become the norm and we lose ourselves in the process of trying to please others.
I was chatting with an old colleague yesterday in the coffee shop, and she lamented about how she doesn’t feel like she can be her full self at work. About how she feels like she has to water herself down, not be “so much”. And her masks are leading her to a full blown case of the Sunday Scaries.
We all know the feeling – when Sunday evening comes around, and anxiety starts to creep in from anticipating the week ahead. The upcoming deadlines, a presentation, dealing with difficult colleagues… it can all come flooding in quickly – and research says it’s happening to an increasing number of us each week..
So what can we do about it? Well, a few things…
TRY IT YOURSELF
If you have a sense of the Sunday Scaries yourself, take a deep breath – you’re not alone.
Create a “Gear Shifting” routine
Sometimes it can be difficult to “shift gears” when we go from “work mode” to “home mode” or any other “modes” we need to be in throughout our day or week. One personal ritual I’ve found incredibly helpful is to create a trigger to help me anchor in the concept of switching gears.
It can be as simple as being intentional about your shutdown – at the end of your workday, being very present in *shut the laptop and turn off the monitor* and decide that this motion is going to signal to yourself that you’re turning off “work mode”… And then in the morning, the *Opening of the Laptop* or *pouring your morning cuppa* is your body signal to “turn on work mode”.
Create your own Gear Shift to signal to yourself that “work mode” starts again with your next ritual.
Although it may sound silly, I started the practice of taking off my imaginary briefcase of work stressors and hanging it on my mailbox every day before I walked in the house. Every morning when I left for the day, I’d pick the imaginary briefcase back up and be on my way (and wouldn’t you know, it always magically felt lighter the next day).
Dance it out
So often anxiety gets stuck in our bodies. When we move our bodies, we not only release endorphins (and as Elle Woods taught us, endorphins make us happy…) the anxiety and overwhelm tend to fall away too. Bonus points if you jam to music that makes you happy. Just as I’m writing this “It’s Okay Not to Be Okay” came on my spoitfy, and I’m finding myself shimmy in my chair – check it out if you need a mood lift, for sure.
Read: Check out this summary of a LinkedIn study on the Sunday Scaries – turns out Millennials and Gen Z experience this phenomena more often than Boomers, but the numbers are still significant.
Watch: This GMA Clip has a few helpful tips on how to combat the Sunday Scaries when they catch up with you.
Listen: NEW PODCAST ALERT! And how timely – Get ready for the week with this mini-meditation podcast, hosted by Headspace meditation and mindfulness teacher, Dora Kamau. Rushing headfirst into Monday can feel scary, but it doesn’t have to be. In each episode, Dora will help you reframe your thinking about Sunday Scaries and lead you through a guided meditation to put those thoughts into action.